Maternity Employment Protection and Rights

Information on the maternity rights and employment protection for working mothers in Japan…

Women's employment is legally protected in Japan. Women cannot be fired:

  • For being pregnant
  • During maternity leave
  • Before or after childbirth
  • Within 30 days after returning from pregnancy leave

There is no specific timeline given when the woman should inform their employer that they are pregnant; however, it is better to inform the employer as early as possible in order to receive appropriate support at work.

The Labour Standard Law and the Equal Employment Opportunity Law also have stipulations regarding pregnant women who work during pregnancy. They include

  • Prohibitions against heavy work which could cause injury
  • Women who ask for adequate treatment should be granted it

Maternity leave

The statutory amount of maternity leave for working mothers is as follows:

  • Before childbirth: six weeks' leave
  • Before childbirth: 14 weeks' leave for a multiple pregnancy, given on request
  • After childbirth: eight weeks' leave is mandatory regardless of whether a woman wants to work

Maternity pay

In order to receive maternity pay, the woman must have paid into a health insurance scheme provided by an employer for over a year, and she must continue to work after maternity leave is finished. About 60 percent of the woman's monthly salary is paid out during maternity leave.

This benefit does not apply to women who are covered by the NHI, or their husband's health insurance.

Maternal Health Communication Card

The Maternal Health Communication Card (Boken Renraku) is attached to the Mother and Child Health Handbook and is promoted by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare to enhance communication between working pregnant women and their employers. For example, should any abnormality be found during pregnancy the employer has to comply with any request made by a doctor.

  • For an example of the Maternal Health Communication Card from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare: Click here (in Japanese)