Initiatives to Promote Work-Life Balance
The SUNDRUG Group is aiming to provide workplaces where each and every employee feels secure to continue working as they select from a variety of flexible working styles in accordance with different life stages and life events. We are introducing a number of systems and measures with a view to resolving any issues that arise, regardless of employees’ nationality and gender.
1. Systems promoting diverse work styles
At the SUNDRUG Group, responsibilities are allocated on the basis of job type, not gender. We are continually taking action to provide women with opportunities for personal growth and self-realization at work. We aim to create an environment where employees can easily take maternity and childcare leave, successfully return to work afterwards, and continue working while they raise children. In addition to the legally mandated systems, the Group has also adopted a number of its own initiatives such as a childcare leave extension system, options to reduce work hours to facilitate ongoing work (childcare reduced working hours system), and a returnee follow-up system that makes it easier for employees to return to work after taking maternity and childcare leave. We also encourage our male employees to participate actively in childcare, and have established a childcare leave system for this purpose.
Childcare leave extension system (1): Legislation requires childcare leave to be offered to employees taking care of a child under the age of one year, or one year and six months in special circumstances, but SUNDRUG’s system allows extended leave for childcare under the age of two years, or three years in special circumstances.
Childcare reduced working hours system (2): Legislation provides for reduction of working hours to six hours per day until the child reaches the age of three (with a non-binding goal of extending this up to the day before the child’s entrance to elementary school), but SUNDRUG employees can reduce their working hours to six hours per day right up to their child’s completion of the third year of elementary school (or the sixth year of elementary school in special circumstances).
Returnee follow-up system (3): Designed to assuage the uncertainties of those returning to work after leave, this system provides both off- and on-the-job training to redress knowledge and information gaps that have arisen during the leave period, in accordance with the Company’s return to work program.
2. Promoting Use of Childcare Leave
Based on an awareness that men’s work styles need to change in order for women to be empowered in the workplace, we promote male involvement in parenting by actively encouraging our male employees to take childcare leave. In fiscal 2020, the proportion of eligible SUNDRUG Group employees taking childcare leave was 52.3% for men and 96.9% for women, significantly exceeding the national averages of 12.7% and 81.6%, respectively.
3. Variable Working Hours System
The SUNDRUG Group has introduced a Monthly Flexible Working Hours System* that enables employees to plan their work attendance flexibly and thereby achieve a better balance between their work and their duties as parents or carers. We have also made it easier to take days off in line with periodical fluctuations in the volume of work, leading to an increase in the number of days of paid annual leave taken by regular employees, and a reduction in their average monthly overtime hours.
(1) Monthly Flexible Working Hours System: A system that enables working hours to be prescribed in excess of the statutory working hours on designated weeks and days within a specific monthly variation period, provided that the average working hours per week within that period do not exceed the weekly statutory working hours.
4. Work Attendance Interval System
The SUNDRUG Group has introduced a work attendance interval system to enable employees to achieve a better balance between their work and their duties as parents or carers, and to make effective use of time before and after work. This initiative is also designed to support the mental health of employees and their families. Used in combination with the Flexible Working Hours System, it helps the SUNDRUG Group alleviate employees’ concerns relating to work-life balance and thereby fulfill its corporate social responsibilities.
5. External evaluation of women’s advancement and childcare support
In August 2018, SUNDRUG was recognized for its good corporate practices in promotion of work-life balance for women with the award of three stars (the highest rating) under the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare’s Eruboshi system, established pursuant to the Act on the Promotion of Female Participation and Career Advancement in the Workplace. Moreover, the Group obtained “Platinum Kurumin” certification from the same Ministry in April 2019 for our proactive support for parenting. This certification reflects our attainment of objectives under an action plan formulated in line with the Act on Advancement of Measures to Support Raising Next-Generation Children (hereinafter referred to as “Next-Generation Act”), and recognizes our initiatives and achievements as models of good corporate practice.
Platinum Kurumin certification is awarded by the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare only to companies whose support for parenting under the Next-Generation Act has already been recognized with Kurumin certification and who satisfy more rigorous standards in terms of good practice in formulation and implementation of measures toward balancing work and home life, including male employees taking childcare leave, continuation of work after taking childcare leave, reduction of overtime work, and provision of diverse working conditions.