According to The Asahi Shimbun today, Fast Retailing Co. will allow employees at its Uniqlo casual clothing chain in Japan to shift to a four-day work week starting in October.
Employees who choose the four-day schedule will be required to work on Saturdays and Sundays, the peak retail days, and take three days off during the five weekdays.
By offering alternative work schedules, Fast Retailing said it hopes to retain talented employees.
Those who opt for the system will work 10 hours a day instead of the usual eight. Their wages will remain unchanged as they will still be putting in a 40-hour week.
About 10,000 "local regular employees" who work in specified areas without transfers will be eligible for the four-day work week. Initially, Fast Retailing expects about 2,000 of them to choose the new system.
Fast Retailing is also considering expanding the system to its head office and its G.U. discount casual wear chain.
Fast Retailing plans to increase the number of local regular employees at Uniqlo stores from the current 10,000 to 16,000.
However, more than 30 percent of employees who started work at Uniqlo stores in 2012 immediately after graduating from universities or other educational institutions quit the company within three years.
Given a growing labour shortage, the company said it wants to retain capable employees by offering various work styles.
Fast Retailing has about 50,000 employees in Japan, including part-time workers.
The new four-day schedule is based on the “transformed working hour system,” which is an exception to the eight-hour workday stipulated by law.
The transformed system is used mostly by restaurants that operate longer hours on Saturdays, Sundays and national holidays, which are their busiest periods.
It is also used by accounting divisions whose workloads dramatically increase ahead of companies announcing their financial statements.
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