Japan has asked its employees to always close early every last Friday of the month.
According to Japan Times, the Premium Friday campaign, which launched this week, is calling on workers to leave the office at 3pm once a month, and spend time with family, dine out or go shopping.
It is hoped that the initiative will encourage people to spend more money on food, in shops and on travel. All Nippon Airways, the country’s largest airline, is offering special discounts from Friday in a bid to entice people to take trips.
“We hope this will encourage people to rest and to leave the office earlier,” an ANA spokeswoman told Japan Times. “Participation by the government and companies is needed to push forward reforms (in the working culture),” she added.
The campaign is part of a general push by the government to crackdown on excessive working hours following the suicide of an employee at ad agency Dentsu that was reportedly ruled to be a “death by overwork”, and cast a harsh spotlight on Japan’s deeply entrenched problem of overtime and burnout.
The president of Dentsu stepped down in the wake of the tragic incident and the company has since announced new measures such as switching off the office lights between 10pm and 5am.
According to a Reuters report, both the labour force and the population is shrinking in Japan. The country wants to reduce working hours to encourage women to work and get men more involved in raising and caring for children. Increased leisure time should also mean more time between the sheets to boost the birth rate, the agency reports.
Last month, Internet company Yahoo Japan Corp said that it was thinking about reducing the number of working days to four-a-week by 2020.