Taking time off not so easy

“The disparity in how much time workers can take off or how much money they can spend for leisure has been widening. As for leisure time, the amount of overtime hours has been increasing among permanent employees, while the mass retirement of baby boomers also had an impact,” said Hisaya Yanagita, a senior researcher at the JPCSED.

“However, the disparity has been growing between generations, and women in their 30s, many of whom are raising children or working part-time jobs, tend to be polarized in how much leisure time they can have or how much they can spend on leisure activities,” he said.

It also has become difficult for employees to use annual paid holidays, which are secured by the Labor Standards Law.

On average, employees took 46.6 percent of their paid holidays in 2007, when the average number of annual paid holidays was 17.7 days, a record low. The rate has been declining since it peaked in 1993, when employees took 56.1 percent of their paid holidays.

These survey results reflect an apparent employee mentality that workplaces make it difficult for them to use paid holidays, while the results also shed light on structural problems in workplaces, as shown by those who said it was difficult to find someone to take over their duties while on vacation, that they couldn’t take holidays because of heavy workload or that they wanted to leave some paid holidays in case of illness or other unanticipated situations.