The Need to Translate Employment Regulations and the Important Points in Translating

Need to Translate Employment Regulations and Important Points in Translating

December 22, 2015

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 Foreign employees, employment regulations

In Japan, foreign workers have been increasing over the years. They are working in a variety of fields and industries, and are playing increasingly significant roles.

On the other hand, problems between foreign employees and Japanese employees have been increasing because they have different attitudes toward work. Thus, it is important to provide foreign employees with an understanding of employment regulations, so-called "office rules", which form a basis for common understanding of work. This article describes the need to translate employment regulations to establish good relationships with non-Japanese with various cultural backgrounds as well as to create a comfortable working environment, and some important points to keep in mind when you are translating these documents.

Relation Between Employment Regulations and Foreign Workers

You must establish employment regulations if you have 10 or more employees, according to the Labor Standards Act. This also applies to the case when you hire foreign workers. In the regulations, rules about starting and ending time of work, days off, wages and resignation must be described. If you set rules also on retirement allowance, special wages, safety and health, they must be described, too.

The Act is supposed to be applied also to foreign workers, as long as they fall under the definition of a worker as specified in the Act, whether or not their resident statuses are legal. Therefore, they are required to follow employment regulations, too. For this reason, it is necessary to get them to understand employment regulations.

Important Points when Translating Employment Regulations

First, when you translate employment regulations, you need to use understandable expressions in the languages that most foreigners can understand. Since employment regulations are a legal document, you may have trouble understanding some parts of the regulations even in Japanese. However, in any case, try to choose words that are as understandable as possible to the extent that you do not change the legal meaning.

Next, note that the following things are prohibited by the Labor Standards Act: to discriminate in wages or pay raise due to nationality, to create work rules applied only to foreign employees, and not to apply employment regulations to foreign employees. Sometimes, employment regulations for Japanese employees are inapplicable to foreigners because of their resident statuses or period of stay. In such case, you need to create another set of work rules according to their job categories or types of employment, instead of creating ones that apply only to foreigners, and translate them. When even these rules are also inapplicable to some foreigners, it is suggested that you clarify their work rules in their employment agreement, stating "pursuant to the individual Employment Agreement."

Fully Inform the Translated Employment Regulations are Available

When translation is done, it is important to inform foreign employees that translated employment regulations are available and ask them to take a moment to read to understand the regulations. This is because, even if the translation is available, unless you thoroughly notify the employees of that, it is going to be more likely that problems will occur in instances such as tardiness, absence without notice or overtime work.

The translated regulations should be posted or placed in a conspicuous place so that foreign employees can see them at any time they want. They should also be handed out individually to each foreign employee as well as provided in digital format so that they can be viewed on their computers.

In addition, when you hire a foreigner, you must explain what is contained in the employment regulations and also mutually confirm the rules described in his/her employment agreement. It is also important to make foreign employees feel comfortable asking questions. Listening sincerely to foreign employees will help you build trustful relations with them and establish a pleasant work environment.


It is true that problems tend to occur when people are working together with foreign employees with various cultural backgrounds. However, by translating employment regulations and providing foreign employees with an understanding of the regulations, you can reduce the possibility of problem and create good relationships with them. In translating these documents, you need to use words and phrases easily understandable to foreigners. If employment regulations for Japanese employees are not appropriate for foreign employees, it is recommended that you create another set of work rules according to their job categories or types of employment, instead of creating ones applied only to foreigners. When translation is done, you should thoroughly notify foreign employees of the translated regulations as well as provide a complete understanding of the regulations.

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