Can you dismiss an employee who slacks off while working from home in Japan?

Can you dismiss an employee who slacks off while working from home in Japan? Japan

Some people who work from home may drink or sleep while at work.

In this article, we would like to explain whether an employee can be dismissed if they fail to do their job while working from home.

‘Dismissal of a permanent employee’ requires extremely strict requirements

You may be aware that it is difficult to dismiss an employee, but you are correct.

The extremely strict requirements are known as the law of abuse of the right to dismiss, and Article 16 of the Labour Contract Law stipulates that “a dismissal shall be invalid as an abuse of the right if it lacks objectively reasonable grounds and is not deemed reasonable in socially accepted terms.” The law stipulates that.

In other words, a dismissal must have objectively reasonable grounds and be socially acceptable.  On the other hand, there might be reasons for employees who slacks off while working. One of the primary reason’s employees slack off at work is because of boredom. These employees either don’t have enough work, don’t feel challenged at work, or don’t fully understand the task at hand. As such, they need to be checked in by the employer and asked about the reasons and points of slacking off.

However, even written in this way, it is not easy to immediately determine the validity of a dismissal in an individual case, as it is extremely abstract.

Therefore, it is important to speculate on the validity of individual dismissals by examining by the court. Courts exist to do justice, to guarantee liberty, to enhance social order, to resolve disputes, to maintain rule of law, to provide for equal protection, and to ensure due process of law. So, it is necessary to base and respect its decision looking at it’s judgement with the past same cases.

Let’s now look at how the courts have decided on similar cases in considering the main question of whether an employee who slacks off while working from home can be dismissed.

Ignoring work orders and playing golf… can you fire me?

The case (Osaka District Court, 29 Sept. 1993, Labour Case No. 642, p. 21), in which the validity of dismissal was disputed on the grounds that the employee was doing private work during working hours, is cited as a similar case.

Outline of the case

The outline of the case is as follows.

A head teacher employed by a certain school corporation went on a school business trip to lead students to a hotel as the leader of a school excursion.

After seeing the first group of students off at the hotel, the school gave the head teacher orders to stay at the hotel as a liaison officer in case of any unexpected accidents until the second group of students arrived at the hotel.

However, the head teacher was dismissed on the grounds of breaching a work order (slacking off) for going out and playing golf for approximately five hours without following the school’s work order, and the validity of the dismissal was disputed.

The court ruled that the disciplinary dismissal was invalid on the grounds that there were no objective reasonable grounds and the dismissal was not deemed reasonable under socially accepted conventions.

Summary of reasons

The summary of the reasons is as follows.

As the leader of the team, he had the important duty of staying at the hotel with a contact system in place in case of an accident, but he went out and played golf, which is a violation of his duties and is subject to disciplinary action.

However, given that such a breach of duty occurred only once, and that no accident occurred during the golf game and the school trip ended without incident, it is not appropriate to give a warning or a pay cut, or even dismiss the employee, in circumstances where it cannot be said that any harm has been caused as a result of the breach of duty. The argument is that, in circumstances where no actual harm can be said to have been caused as a result of the breach of duty, a warning or a pay cut would be exceptional, while dismissal would be excessive and not reasonable.

In summary, this means that even if there has been a breach of duty (skipping work), the employee cannot be dismissed unless there has been actual harm as a result or the breach of duty has occurred more than once.


On the question of whether an employee who slacks off while working at home can be dismissed in light of the similar cases mentioned above, the conclusion is that dismissal is not permitted unless there are circumstances such as multiple instances of slacking off while working at home or concrete damage has been caused to the company as a result of the slacking off.

As described above, it is not possible to dismiss an employee immediately if it is found that he/she has been skipping work while working at home, but this does not mean that it is appropriate in terms of labour management not to take any disciplinary action.

In the similar cases mentioned above, the courts have not ruled out the possibility of a warning or a pay cut as a disciplinary measure, so it will be necessary to take disciplinary action accordingly.