Work-Life Balance

Work-Life Balance

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, and reducing overtime.

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.

Furthermore, a flextime system and a work interval system have been adopted with the purpose of reducing long hours and improving productivity. 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.

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 the fiscal year ended December 31, 2022, the Sumitomo Forestry Group set the critical target "reducing long working hours through workstyle reforms" as of December 2022 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.

Average overtime hours and individual overtime hours including management are also reported to the head of each department to increase awareness about mitigating long working hours.

In particular, close communication with customers is indispensable in the sales and construction of custom-built detached housing in the Housing Division, which results in the employees' long working hours.To this end, OHS committee, which meets at each branch office, discusses initiatives to reduce long working hours at each branch. As to the working system and operational flow reform that are difficult to tackle at a branch level, the Housing Division continuously leads the long working hours mitigation campaign by making proposals for the systems improvement.

  • Reduction of overtime working hours
    FY2022 results (January to December 2022)
    (Compared to FY2017)


  • FY2022 target
    Reduction of overtime working hours
    (Compared to FY2017)


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 aim 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 work 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.

Encouraging Employees to Take Paid Annual Leave

Sumitomo Forestry has promoted the use of annual paid leave by encouraging employees to take at least 70% of their annual paid leave entitlement and by posting a list of leave taken by each business location on the internal website.We have also introduced an annual paid leave system in half-day and hourly units, as well as a planned refreshment break and summer vacation to create an environment conducive to taking leave.

In addition, the Housing Division has established planned annual holidays for all departments (general rule of four days).

The yearly paid leave usage ratio in 2022 was 68.4 percent as a result of these initiatives.

Paid Leave Usage Ratio


Results of Paid leave usage ratio (non-consolidated)

2019 2020 2021 2022
Paid leave usage ratio (non-consolidated) (%) 60.2 60.7 64.1 68.4

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

*Excluding directors and executive officers, employees on overseas assignment, employees hosted from other companies, and employees on extended leave or leave of absence

  • Average paid leaves taken by employees
    2022 results

    (Non-consolidates) 13.1days

    (Affiliates companies in Japan)11.8days

  • 2022 Target
    Average paid leaves taken by employees


    (Affiliates companies in Japan)11.3days

Initiatives to Promote the Use of Paid 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. The number of days available for the refresh leave program changed from "three days" to "five days" in 2019 to encourage employees to take consecutive days of annual paid leave and put in place an environment where employees can take leave more easily.

Although branches of the Housing Business Division are closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays because they often have business meetings with customers on Saturdays and Sundays, it sometimes makes hard for employees to take time off to attend their families' school activities or community events.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.

Refreshment Break and Family Friendly Day Leave Acquisition Rate (Non-consolidated)

2019 2020 2021 2022
Percentage of Refresh Leave Program takers (%) 43.7 31.3 31.3 24.7
Percentage of Family Friendly Day Leave takers (%) 36.8 30.5 26.6 31.2

Supporting the Workstyles of Employees Currently Raising Children

Sumitomo Forestry drafted its first action plan in 2005 when the Act on Advancement of Measures to Support Raising Next- Generation Children was enacted. Since then, we have continued to further initiatives even today through our seventh action plan (April 1, 2022 to December 31, 2024).

Business Reform Committee Initiatives

Sumitomo Forestry launched the Business Reform Committee in April 2019 with managers from the head office and divisions acting as members and chaired by the executive vice president. The committee has been working on company-wide themes relating to business and work style reforms by incorporating employee feedback via questionnaires and suggestion boxes, such as the promotion of telework, a transition to a paperless environment and revisions to in-person signature approval processes. We will continue to review employee operations and make them more efficient.

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.

The event has been held at 18 different sites every summer thus far with participation of 149 families consisting of 433 employees and family members (canceled in fiscal 2020 and 2022 due to the impact of COVID-19 infections). Each site added their won touches in addition to the popular programs, such as participation in morning assemblies, a children's exchange of business cards made from wood plates with their names, and work interviews of work colleagues when hosting the Family Open Day.

Promoting Paternal Support for Male Employees

At Sumitomo Forestry, male employees are required to report their spouses' pregnancy and childbirth plans to their supervisors and Workstyle Diversification Department of Personnel Department. Then, the employees consult with their supervisors about the status of childcare and the acquisition of childcare leave while reviewing the "Handbook for Supporting Work and Childcare Balance" and a guidebook on childcare-related systems together.

After the interview, the employee fills out the "Childcare Leave Notification and Intention Confirmation Form" indicating their desire to take childcare leave and their supervisor's comments, and returns the form to Workstyle Diversification Department. The submission of this form is mandatory when applying for the "lump-sum childcare support payment" provided to employees whose children are born, thereby increasing the rate at which interviews are conducted. In addition, we follow up on each individual's smooth acquisition of childcare leave depending on the details of their request.

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. 77 male employees took childcare leave in fiscal 2022.

Main Childcare Support Programs (FY2022)

Program Description
Childcare leave at birth May be taken up to 2 times within 8 weeks of the birth of the child
Childcare leave Childcare leave may be taken by employees until March 31 immediately following the child's second birthday, and may be obtained in installments of up to 2 times. The full salary is paid for the first five days of childcare leave.
Spouse Childbirth Leave Spouse childbirth leave may be taken for five days within two weeks from childbirth of a spouse. Full salary paid.
Shorter working hours Until the child completes the sixth grade of elementary school, employees may work shorter hours, work a four-day week and be exempt from overtime work, limit statutory overtime work, and limit late-night work.
Core time reduction for the flextime system Until the child completes the sixth grade of elementary school, employees may reduce the end of core time by up to one hour in 30-minute increments.
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).

Childcare Support Programs

Childcare Support Programs

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

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

Roundtable Discussion for Employees on Childcare Leave

Sumitomo Forestry held a round table event online in March 2022 for employees planning to return to work from childcare leave. This program helps to alleviate concerns about returning to work, improve health and build a network between other people raising children.

Implementation of Joint Seminars for Those who Returning to Work from Childcare Leave and Their Supervisors

Sumitomo Forestry held a joint seminar in November 2022 for those who returning to work from childcare leave and their supervisor. This seminar held classes to teach the social landscape surrounding childbirth and child raising, a balance between work and childcare as well as future career development, panel discussions with senior employees who have experience raising children and working, and group discussions with other participants. The opportunity offered a chance for everyone to think about the actions supervisors and the individual raising a child can each take to find a balance between work, raising children and developing a career.

Supporting Workstyles for Employees Caring for Family Members

Sumitomo Forestry supports its employees in balancing work and nursing care. In addition to allowing employees to take up to 365days of leave per applicable family member, employees may also take advantage of shorter working hours or a four-day workweek. The flextime system was rolled out to the entire company in January 2021 (except employees on the discretionary work system), and now the core hours can be shortened for reasons of family care. Sumitomo Forestry has also established family illness and injury leave, enabling employees to take in 30 minute increments.

In fiscal 2021, we prepared a guidebook to provide basic knowledge and information on balancing work and family care, as well as the fundamentals of facilities for the elderly and family care services.

Main Family Care Support Programs (FY2022)

Program Description Usage results
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 1 (Four-Day Work Week: 1)

No. of employees who took family care leave: 1
Shorter working hours Employees may work shorter hours, work a four-day week, be exempt from overtime work, limit statutory overtime work, and limit late-night overtime work.
Employees eligible for the flextime system may reduce the end of core time up to one hour in 30-minute increments.
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)

FY2019 FY2020 FY2021 FY2022
Family care leave (Persons) 1 2 2 1
Number of family support program users (Persons)
(Flextime System, Shorter Working Hours, Four-Day Work Week, etc.)
4 4 1 1

Sumitomo Forestry Holds Seminar to Support Balancing Work and Family Care

Beginning in 2021, Sumitomo Forestry is holding online seminars and individual consultations to help people balance work and nursing care. The goal is to create an environment where people can balance work and family life in their daily lives, rather than giving up work to care for family members, and to give them tips on how to stay healthy and active both physically and mentally.

Sumitomo Forestry held seminars titled "Secrets to Balancing Work and Family Care" in December 2021, “Balancing Work and Dementia Care" in July 2022, and "The Basics of Elderly Care Facilities and Nursing Care Costs" in December 2022, with about 50 to 150 employees attending each session, including those who are already caring for family members, those who want to start preparations, and those who want to learn for their subordinates and colleagues. Individual consultations with the seminar instructors are held for individuals who choose to attend after each seminar.

We will continue to provide seminars and consultations to assist people in balancing work and family care.

Telework Initiatives

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 2018, Sumitomo Forestry has 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.

Using our response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic as an opportunity in fiscal 2020, we prepared an environment in which every employee could telecommute and began the use of satellite offices.

We abolished the existing telecommuting rules, added provisions for satellite office work and mobile work, and have developed telework rules with increased eligibility in January 2022. These rules were established to improve work-life balance and productivity, and all employees may utilize them for up to 2 days per week, based on the company-wide telework experience in the aftermath of the novel coronavirus disaster. Any utilization of 3 or more days per week can be accomplished by applying for it.

In the future, we will continue to consider further use of ICT, along with the development of an IT environment and the promotion of productivity through the use of ICT.

Application System to Request the Place of Work

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. A new system was also 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 child or family care.

As at the end of December 2022, a total 46 employees have made use of these programs to transfer to a different location.

In addition, an employee who desires a work style without transfers requiring relocation of residence from their current workplace due to unavoidable circumstances such as child raising, family care or illness may use a work style able to accommodate their unique situation using an application and approval process.