Basic Policy

Sumitomo Forestry recognizes employees' diverse work styles and strives to create a workplace where they can be motivated in their jobs, and still enjoy fulfilling private lives. Reflecting these aims, the Company has worked on such initiatives as providing childcare and family care programs, promoting greater participation by women, and reducing overtime.

In fiscal 2013, the Workstyle Diversification Department was established within the Personnel Department, bringing together support desk functions relating to work styles and careers, including childcare and family care, career support, mental health and post-retirement re-employment. In developing a counseling system which is easier for employees to access, the Company supports diverse work styles.

A flextime system and a work interval system were adopted with the purpose of reducing long hours and improving productivity in fiscal 2017. The transition is not only in working hours but also from a labor system to a true count system in addition to adopting measures such as a per hour productivity assessment.

These programs aim to improve employee motivation as well as productivity by preventing harm to health from accumulated fatigue due to working long hours in addition to heightening awareness about cost versus time to realize a work-life balance.

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Addressing Long Working Hours

Sumitomo Forestry sees long working hours left unaddressed as a factor causing occupational injuries and damage to the image of plants and it recognizes the lack of a workforce in the future as a grave management risk.

Since fiscal 2019, the Sumitomo Forestry Group set critical fiscal 2021 targets “reducing long work hours through work style reforms” in the Mid-Term Sustainability Targets to promote this initiative. Each division and consolidated Group company in Japan confirms the performance toward achieving these targets every fiscal year.

In particular, close communication with customers is indispensable in the sales and construction of custom-built detached housing, and long working hours occur as a result of this need in the Housing and Construction Division.

Therefore, average overtime hours and individual overtime hours are reported to the head of each department to increase awareness about mitigating long working hours.

Additionally, a Workstyle Improvement Committee has been set up at branches to implement initiatives to address long working hours.

As to the working system and operational flow reform that are difficult to tackle at a branch level, the Long Working Hours Mitigation Committee set within the Housing and Construction Division continuously leads the long working hours mitigation campaign by making proposals for the systems improvement.

Revisions to the Personnel System

In fiscal 2017, Sumitomo Forestry revised the personnel system to transition overtime work to an actual count system paying employees based on deemed number of working hours. Moreover, we are promoting a reduction in long working hours and higher productivity by adopting a flextime system, work interval system and a productivity assessment by hour.

The transition to an actual count system and the adoption of a productivity assessment primarily aims to grow the cost awareness by hour, reduce long hours as well as heighten the quality and productivity of work.

We are also striving to equalize operational working hours overall by stipulating the total working hours per month in a flextime system.

In addition, the interval system makes sure employees have 11 hours of leisure time between the end of the work day until the start of the next work day and exempts employees from working at the start of a workday or core time if it overlaps this leisure time. These systems aim to prevent overwork and further the preservation of employee health.

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Mental Health Care

Practical Mental Health Care

Based on the Guidelines for Maintaining and Improving Workers' Mental Health formulated by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare in August 2000, Sumitomo Forestry implements four types of care for mental health: self-care; care provided by line managers; care provided by occupational health staff within the workplace; and care using resources from outside the business.

In April 2013, the Company established the Workstyle Diversification Department within the Personnel Department. It is responsible for providing support related to childcare and family care, career support and support for mental health. In order to further enhance mental health care, the Company put effort into providing mentally ill individuals with follow-up support and help in returning to work. The Company assigned an employee, who is a qualified clinical psychologist, to the Workstyle Diversification Department, and it worked in close cooperation with an external provider of the employee assistance program (EAP)*.

In fiscal 2019, Sumitomo Forestry revised the external Employee Assistance Program (EAP) agency alliance and established a new management consultation desk to further a system to better support line care. This help desk is not only available to employees but also their families and can support in English and Chinese, which offers better care for a wider range of employees.

We adjust stratified working hours and the work load to suit the circumstances of each individual by adopting an occupational rehabilitation system to help employees return to work to create and execute rehabilitation plans so that each person can both physically and mentally get used to the work environment.

Sumitomo Forestry distributes a Mental Absentee Guidebook when employees take leave with corporate rules and other information related to how to spend that time off as well as the suspension of their work to elevate worry as much as possible during their break. We also distribute a Guidebook for Managers to supervisors as well to provide information that includes ways to handle each situation.

* A workplace mental health care service for employees

Mental Health Education for Management

Preventative Measures for Mental Health Care

As part of its prevention of mental health disorders, the Company has offered stress checks, which were made mandatory after amendments to the Industrial Safety and Health Law in December 2015, on a website to employees covered by health insurance (excluding those employees on long-term leave, such as maternity leave or convalescence leave) since fiscal 2013.

To further promote active health management in fiscal 2019, we revised the stress check from the original 57 items (occupational stress quick check sheet) to a new stress check made up of 89 items. As follow-up measures after the stress check for departments that found to have low general health and a high stress rate, internal counselors (clinical psychologist) and external EAP agencies provide one-on-one counseling as well as line care and self-care training.

Since fiscal 2009, Sumitomo Forestry also provides guidance to all of its employees twice a year through the general manager of the personnel department while fostering communication with staff on a daily basis to prevent harassment with the purpose of building a lively, comfortable and friendly workplace. In conjunction, a harassment consultation desk has also been put in place in personnel departments to support consults from employees. In addition, Work and Human Rights e-learning is required for all Group employees as training that includes education about harassment (passing the comprehension test require a score of at least 80 points).

An employee who is a certified public health nurse has been hired into the Workstyle Diversification Department to not only offer mental health care but also provide assistance such as various health consultations, enlightenment about health for new employees, and follow-up after health check-ups.

We also conduct health check-ups before appointing or returning an employee to a post for overseas appointees as well as interview individuals, gain information and provide advice about the state of their health as well as address other needs they may have.

Practical Mental Health Care Results

FY2015 FY2016 FY2017 FY2018 FY2019
Stress Check Response Rate (%) 91.6 88.2 92.1 91.6 93.3

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Encouraging Employees to Take Paid Leave

Paid Leave Usage Ratio

Sumitomo Forestry encourages employees to take at least 14 days of planned paid leave each year, inclusive of refresh leave and the summer holiday period. The list of results for the paid leave usage by employees at each site is published on the intranet to encourage employees to take their paid leave.

As for fiscal 2017, Sumitomo Forestry has consolidated the attendance management systems in a way that not only employees but also their supervisors can see their leave plans, and thereby, enabled employees to plan their paid leaves better. In addition, the Housing and Construction Division established planned annual leave for all departments as of fiscal 2017 (general rule of four days).

The percentage of paid leave taken in fiscal 2019 was 60.2%.

The Company has again listed “take at least 13.5 days of paid leave” in its Sustainability Budget, and will continue to further promote this initiative during fiscal 2020.

Results of Paid Leave Usage Ratio

FY2015 FY2016 FY2017 FY2018 FY2019
Paid Leave Usage Ratio (%) 32.8 35.9 47.4 53.2 60.2

*Calculated by dividing the number of days of paid leave taken each fiscal year by the number of days of paid leave issued.

Refresh Leave and Family Friendly Day Leave

So that employees can engage energetically in their jobs with healthy body and mind, Sumitomo Forestry is developing workplace environments that allow employees to take leave as they wish. As part of those efforts, employees are encouraged to take consecutive days of “refresh leave” at a time that suits them in addition to the summer and New Year holiday periods. Each workplace is required to draw up refresh leave schedules for individual employees. The number of days available for the refresh leave program changed from “three days” to “five days” in fiscal 2019 to put in place an environment where employees can take leave more easily.

At branches of the Housing and Construction Division, which are regularly closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, employees often meet with customers on the weekends, which sometimes make it hard to take time off to participate in family events and other private occasions. This has been addressed with the introduction of Family Friendly Day leave, which allows employees to take either one Saturday or one Sunday off each month to spend with family or on a chosen pursuit. Branch employees are encouraged to cooperate on adjustment of job responsibilities and meeting schedules, thereby helping to create a workplace environment that makes it easy to take leave on the weekends.

Refresh Leave and Family Friendly Day Programs Performance (Non-consolidated)

FY2015 FY2016 FY2017 FY2018 FY2019
Percentage of Refresh Leave Program takers (%) 46.0 42.3 38.9 32.1 43.7
Percentage of Family Friendly Day Leave takers (%) 26.0 27.0 28.3 28.7 36.8

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Supporting the Workstyles of Employees Currently Raising Children

Sumitomo Forestry has put in place a number of support programs that allow employees to work while also raising children.

For example, supervisors conduct interviews with employees who plan to take childcare leave together with a person in charge of the Workstyle Diversification Department upon request. These interviews explain the programs related to childcare leave and provide advice about the work style after the employee returns to work in addition to introducing information such as examples of other employees who have found balance between raising children and work.

Moreover, employees who want to work while raising children can apply for programs such as the flextime system as well as reduced working hours so that they can have a flexible workstyle.

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The 6th Next Generation Law Action Plan (for Fiscal 2015 to 2019)

Sumitomo Forestry formulates and implements action plans for supporting employees who are raising families, in accordance with the Act on Advancement of Measures to Support Raising Next-Generation Children (Next Generation Law).

Sumitomo Forestry has formulated and advanced its 6th Action Plan for fiscal 2015 to 2019 with the following targets.

  1. Host seminars themed on work style reforms in order to foster a work environment which actively involves female employees who are rearing infants
  2. Hold “Family Open Day” to create a pleasant work environment for all employees to execute their talent
  3. Create systems for male employees who are raising children to consult with superiors about available programs to encourage male employees to participate in raising their children The usage status of programs related to child raising are also published on our intranet.

An Iku-boss Seminar was held by inviting an outside instructor in September 2017 with the theme of renewing the way of thinking to continually improve results while realizing a work style in-line with each person's circumstances by limiting long hours according to an action plan. Approximately 120 people participated with most being general managers who work at the head office in fiscal 2016. Approximately 180 general managers from around Japan from the Housing and Construction Division as well as others participated in fiscal 2017.

In April 2019, we held lectures on work-style reforms to enhance the hourly value of each employee with the participation of roughly 200 general managers of departments and branches from throughout Japan.

Sumitomo Forestry also formulated and began work on its 7th Action Plan for fiscal 2020 to 2021 with the following three targets.

  1. Encourage telework system and a work environment to enable work-style options regardless of place.
  2. Put in place consultation systems to support employee career development.
  3. Build environments in which every employee working in a company involved in housing and lifestyles can actively participate in the valuable experiences of raising children and household chores regardless of gender.

Family Open Day

Since July 2014, Sumitomo Forestry holds the “Family Open Day,” an event for the families of employees to visit their offices. The ultimate aim of this event is to create pleasant work environment and lively atmosphere for all employees by expressing the Company's appreciation for the support provided by employees' families, assisting the families in understanding about the work at Sumitomo Forestry better, and fostering opportunities for employees to gain mutual understanding with others.

In fiscal 2019, the event was held in one branch, totaling 20 participants from 5 families. The children took part in the morning briefing, exchanged business cards, interviewed employees about their work, and made wooden crafts. Celebrating its sixth anniversary in fiscal 2019, Family Open Day was held as summer event by spearheading innovation.

Family Open Day at the School of Professional Building Techniques

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Promoting Paternal Support for Male Employees

In the process of receiving the lump-sum childcare allowance offered to male employees with newly born children, the employees are required to submit “the questionnaire for a parental support request,” which is followed by an interview with a direct supervisor about the answers to the questionnaire as well as details of the request. The supervisor then adds resulting comments on the questionnaire including instructions for the subordinate and consideration that should be made by the Company, at the end of the process. This system is believed to encourage more male employees to take part in the parenting duties and raise mutual understanding between the parenting males and their colleagues.

Main Childcare Support Programs (FY2019)

Program Description
Childcare leave Childcare leave may be taken by employees until March 31 immediately following the childʼs second birthday
Shorter working hours Until the child completes the sixth grade of elementary school, employees may use the flextime system, work shorter hours, work a four-day week and be exempt from overtime work, limit statutory overtime work, and limit late-night work.
Leave to care for child and attend special events Employees may take the equivalent of ten days a year for their first child or 15 days a year for two or more children in 30-minute increments with full-pay to care for a sick or injured child until their children have completed the sixth grade of elementary school. Of these ten days, up to five days may be used for attending special events with their child (ten days for two or more children). Employees who have two or more children may use up to 10 days to take care of their children even if they have used five or more days for special events (however, leave that exceeds 15 days is unpaid).

*1 During pregnancy, childbirth leave, childcare leave, within one year after the childbirth

*2 Until March 31 immediately following the child’s second birthday. This can be extended for up to 14 days for childcare reasons.

*3 Employees who have worked continuously for one year or more

*4 Employees who have worked for six months or more

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Supporting Workstyles for Employees Caring for Family Members

Sumitomo Forestry provides support to employees who are working while also nursing family members. Family care leave was revised so that eligible employees may take up to 365 days of leave per applicable family member, and employees may also take advantage of the flextime system, work shorter hours or work a four-day week. Sumitomo Forestry has also established family illness and injury leave, enabling employees to take up to 10 days of leave each year in 30 minute increments.

Main Family Care Support Programs (FY2019)

Program Description Usage in FY2019
Family care leave This system allows up to 365 cumulative days of leave per family member requiring care, and is available to employees
  • Number of family support program users: Total of 4 (Flextime System: 3; Four-Day Work Week: 1)
  • No. of employees who took family care leave: 1
Shorter working hours Employees may use the flextime system, work shorter hours, work four-day a week, be exempt from overtime work, limit statutory overtime work, and limit late-night overtime work.
Family illness and injury Regular employees may take the equivalent of ten days a year in 30-minute increments (employees may take an additional five days for two or more family members who require care). Employees may take five of the ten days of leave to take care of a sick or injured family member

Family Care Support Program Performance (Non-consolidated)

FY2015 FY2016 FY2017 FY2018 FY2019
Family care leave (Persons) 1 2 2 1 1
Number of family support program users (Persons)
(Flextime System, Shorter Working Hours, Four-Day Work Week, etc.)
3 3 7 3 4

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Telework Program

Sumitomo Forestry introduced the telework option in fiscal 2009 for such reasons as the time saved from commuting can be spent on work or family activities, and employees can concentrate when working in a quiet home environment.

Since fiscal 2017, this program was expanded to all employees (approval system) except new graduates who joined the company less than three-years ago or career hires who have only been with the company for less than six months with emphasis on employees who are taking care of children or a family member as well as employees who have a long commute.

As response to the COVID-19, Sumitomo Forestry adopted Group-wide flextime policies, introduced a shift system to reduce the number of people in offices, and provided systems for employees to work either in the office or from home. When an emergency declaration was issued, we transition to a fundamental telework systems to have all employees in the affected regions work from home.

In the future, in order to promote flexible work styles further, the Company will continue to work to expand consistent use of the program, such as by explaining the program details and recommending its use to employees on an individual basis when they appear for work style consultations.

Participation in “Telework Days”

Following fiscal 2018, Sumitomo Forestry participated in the “Telework Days” campaign promoted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, the Cabinet Secretariat, the Cabinet Office, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in addition to relevant associations and corporations as a special cooperative organization to promote work style innovation in fiscal 2019. 310 employees worked remotely at home or mobile for at least two days of the week from July 22 to September 6, and the participation of 162 employees throughout Japan on July 24, the focus date of the campaign. Through this campaign by providing opportunity for many employees to experience the benefits of telecommuting and working remotely first hand, Sumitomo Forestry promotes understanding and create a foundation for a telework system.

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Transfer Request Application Systems (Spouse Relocation / Family Care)

In fiscal 2008, Sumitomo Forestry established a program facilitating the transfer of employees to a certain destination for reasons limited to marriage or a spouse transfer accompanied by a change of residence. The program enables employees to continue working for the Company even after marriage or their spouse being transferred.

In fiscal 2014, with the new addition of “childcare” to the reasons for application, transfers are now considered in cases where an employee wants to live with their spouse for the purpose of balancing work and parenting. Also, a new system was established whereby employees can submit a transfer request for reasons of “family care.” Transfers are now also considered in cases where the location of employment restricts the employee from balancing work with family care.

As at the end of March 2020, a total 43 employees have made use of these programs to transfer to a different location.

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Sustainability Report