Toyota to Introduce 4-Day Workweek for Some Employees; Company Hopes More Flexible Schedules Will Boost Worker Motivation

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The logo of Toyota Motor Corp. is seen in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, on March 9.

Toyota Motor Corp. plans to introduce a new work system this year that will allow some clerical and technical employees who are not directly involved in production to take three days off in a week, it has been learned.

Their total working time and salary levels will not be changed. The new system is intended to increase employees’ motivation and keep skilled workers on staff by allowing them to choose their working days at their discretion.

Currently, Toyota uses a flextime system in which working times are staggered but are set at a minimum of 2 hours per day. The new system will eliminate this minimum and instead allow employees to work longer hours on some days so that they can have more days off while maintaining the same total working hours.

The new system will mainly apply to clerical positions, such as sales, procurement and accounting, as well as technical positions, such as software, vehicle development and quality control. The company’s labor and management sides plan to discuss work assignments, evaluation methods and other details before the system is launched.

Toyota aims to make its work system more flexible and encourage employees to work autonomously, thereby increasing their motivation.

However, there is a concern that employees will make their work days longer in order to take more days off. To prevent this, the company plans to urge employees to take well-planned paid holidays. It will also try not to place excessive burdens on employees; for example, overtime work exceeding a certain number of hours will not fall under this system.

Companies, particularly major corporations, are increasingly introducing systems that allow employees to take three or more days off a week if they wish, while placing more focus on performance. In the auto industry, competition over automated driving and electric vehicles is intensifying, so Toyota intends to use the new work system to secure and retain capable employees.