All employees in Japan are entitled to paid leave, period

Reader A is employed by an agency and has been dispatched to a food processing company. The agency explained to A that she was not entitled to paid leave. However, other people directly employed by the food processing company enjoy 10 to 15 days paid holiday, and A has recently learned that those dispatched by other agencies to the same company also get paid leave.

In justifying the decision not to grant A paid leave, the agency said that A’s work schedule is irregular depending on the company calendar. However, A says she is working the night shift eight hours a day, 40 hours a week at least.

A, I assume that you have been dispatched legally, that is, based on the Act for Securing the Proper Operation of Worker Dispatching Undertakings and Improved Working Conditions for Dispatched Workers. Under this act, “worker dispatching” is defined as “causing a worker(s) employed by one person so as to be engaged in work for another person under the instruction of the latter, while maintaining his/her employment relationship with the former, but excluding cases where the former agrees with the latter that such worker(s) shall be employed by the latter” (Article 2). If this is the case, you have an employment relationship not with the company where you are dispatched (hakensaki) but with the agency that dispatches you (hakenmoto).

Paid leave is a right all employees are entitled to. A worker who has been employed continuously for six months from the day they were hired and has reported for work on at least 80 percent of their assigned workdays must be granted annual paid leave, according to Article 39 of the Labor Standards Act.

If you fulfill the conditions for paid leave, you have a legal right to demand it from your agency. If the agency still refuses, you should report them to the relevant labor standards bureau, who will conduct an investigation and either suggest or request the agency grant you paid leave if a violation is found.