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Promoting work–life balance

Work–life balance management

Mizuho is committed to creating an engaging work environment which will encourage long–term retention and contribution. To that end, as laid out in the Diversity and Inclusion Statement (PDF/35KB), we have introduced a number of initiatives to enhance work–life balance. The goals of these initiatives include having 100% of eligible male employees take childcare leave, reducing resignations due to aging family care obligations, and enabling employees to work remotely. Where appropriate Mizuho will provide flexible work arrangements to accommodate significant changes in an employee's personal circumstances (such as the birth of a child), allowing them to choose the most effective option at the time to achieve a good work–life balance.

Flexible and diverse working arrangements

Flexible working hours

In order to help employees work more effectively and productively, Mizuho offers the option of flexible working hours, such as flextime (options with and without core hours) and staggered working hours, to suit the needs of each workplace.

We also provide systems that support a good work–life balance for employees facing time limitations due to childcare and aging family care, above and beyond legal requirements. For example, employees with young children can select to work full days on some days of the week and shortened hours on other days, allowing them to flexibility adjust their working hours to fit their family's situation, their spouse's work schedule, or other circumstances.

Remote work options

In order to provide employees with flexibility in terms of the location where they work, we have set up a satellite office floor in our Head Office and introduced a remote work system available for all employees.

We have put in place the necessary framework to ensure that employees can work without coming in to the office, and this has particularly enabled employees facing time limitations due to childcare and aging family care to make maximum use of the periods of time when they are best able to work. Also, we believe that allowing each individual to select the location which they can most effectively work from will lead to increased productivity, and therefore in fiscal 2017 we launched a remote work trial at four group companies. As a result, around 1,000 people from around 70 departments who had not yet used the remote work system tried it out, experiencing first–hand the effects of remote work and re–evaluating the idea that work involves coming into the office.

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An employee (at the far end of the table) joins a meeting from home via tablet videoconferencing

Initiatives to reduce overtime work

In order to maintain employee health and avoid burnout, not only is Mizuho taking a strong stance against overwork, but we also ask each office or branch, and each employee to set work efficiency goals, and to make proactive efforts to reduce their overtime work through increases in productivity.

In particular, we have achieved more effective operational management by encouraging the use of tablets, which support our efforts to go paperless and which employees can use to join meetings through videoconferencing and draw up proposals while meeting with clients, among other uses.

Other initiatives aimed at reducing overtime work include designated days where all employees are encouraged to leave the office on time ("Refresh Summer", "Refresh Winter", "Family Day"), and the automatic extinguishing of all lights at Head Office at a set time in the evening.

Encouraging the use of annual leave

We set a numerical target of having employees take at least 70% of their paid annual leave per year by FY2018, and were able to achieve this target a year in advance, reaching 72.7% in FY2017. Mizuho encourages all employees to make use of their paid annual leave allowance. Employees are asked to map out their planned leave schedule at the beginning of each fiscal year, including at least one week–long consecutive leave period, a four–day weekend, and single–day "spot leave". Additionally, the ability to take a half day off up to 32 times per year makes it easy to use leave flexibly. Mizuho also provides a variety of special leave, such as a leave allowance for when one's partner gives birth (parental leave), "refresh leave" for employees reaching certain long–service milestones, and leave for self–development and for volunteer activities.

Work arrangement advisory desk

This desk, located within the HR Group, maintains close communication with each workplace in order to provide information on the different work arrangements, systems and programs that Mizuho offers and the ways that employees can use them, in addition to providing advice and solutions for issues employees may be experiencing in terms of work arrangements.

Support for working parents

Mizuho offers several programs, above and beyond those required by law, to minimize work–related obstacles to childbirth and raising children, such as childcare leave until the child reaches age two, and reduced working hours until the child reaches the third grade of elementary school (about age 8–9). In addition, Mizuho supports working parents by offering childcare centers on workplace premises, and by holding seminars and providing handbooks targeted at both parents and management.

Childcare leave for male employees

By encouraging male employees to take childcare leave, Mizuho aims to enable these employees to achieve a better work–life balance and to reduce the disproportionate amount of childcare responsibility that tends to be taken on by women. We believe that a strong commitment to achieving a healthy work–life balance leads to the creation of a more productive workplace. With a stated numerical target of "100% of eligible male employees to take childcare leave by the end of March 2019", Mizuho is taking steps to raise awareness and transform employee behavior and mindsets. For example, as of the second half of FY2016, eligible male employees can take five days paid leave for childcare, and new fathers will also receive a childcare handbook and a letter of congratulations from their manager, as well as a reminder to take the leave available.

On–site childcare centers

Given the limited number of daycare centers for children in Japan today, Mizuho has set up two on–site childcare centers in Tokyo to facilitate parents' smooth return to work from childcare leave, the first being in Sendagaya. In November 2015, Mizuho opened a new childcare center in its Uchisaiwai–cho Head Office Building, which many employees are making use of as they return to work.

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At the Mizuho on–site childcare center in Sendagaya, Tokyo

Childcare support system handbooks

Mizuho has created a handbook explaining our childbirth and childcare support systems in order to encourage employees to make use of these systems, and to support a smooth return to work. A Work–Life Balance Support Handbook has also been created for management to guide their efforts to provide work–life balance support for members of their team. We also introduced a childcare handbook for male employees to encourage their greater participation in childcare.

Seminars on work–life balance and career development

Every year over 2,000 Mizuho employees take childcare leave. In order to facilitate their smooth return to the workplace and their ability to balance their career with family responsibilities, Mizuho runs seminars for employees planning to go on maternity leave which are intended to assist them in remaining on track towards their career goals after returning to work and provide them with tips on achieving a good balance between work and childcare commitments. We also hold "Work–Life Balance Support Seminars" for employees on childcare leave, those who have recently returned to work, and their managers, covering potential changes in work arrangements that may be suitable at different points depending on the child's age. These programs aim to assist employees in building their careers while balancing work with childcare commitments and include talks by outside experts on medium– to long– term career development, and discussions with Mizuho employees who have experience with returning to work after childcare leave.

In addition, as another means of extending career building support and assistance for employees to achieve a balance between work and childcare obligations, Mizuho has established a system wherein managers will meet with employees prior to their maternity leave, during their leave, and when they return to work, to ensure that supervisors are able to understand each employee's particular situation and needs with regard to achieving a good work–life balance and therefore provide active support.

We also regularly provide eLearning courses and other means of enhancing all employees' understanding of the systems and benefits Mizuho offers, as well as those guaranteed under Japan's Act on Childcare Leave & Caregiver Leave. These courses aim to reduce any hesitation employees may have about using the systems/benefits available, to ensure smoother communication between those using these systems/benefits and their coworkers, and to prevent harassment.

Support for employee networking

We aim to assist working parents to connect with others who share their concerns and challenges relating to childcare and their career, and to swap ideas on dealing with these various issues.

In terms of supporting working parents, Mizuho's commitment is not only to ensuring that employees are not put at a disadvantage based on their childcare obligations but also that they can maintain a good work–life balance and fully participate in their children's lives, achieving personal fulfillment and growth along the way. With this in mind, we established the "Parenting Network" – an internal network for working parents, open to employees in Japan. The network currently consists of 60 employees with young children.

Parenting Network members have been carrying out a trial run of an eleven–part course for working parents developed by Nihon Kyodo System, Inc. and The Center for Early Childhood Development, Education, and Policy Research at the University of Tokyo's Graduate School of Education. The course not only provides parents with relevant information but also acts as a forum for them to exchange ideas with other employees with young children, leading to higher engagement and motivation.

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The course for working parents

Bring your child to work day

Every July and August, Mizuho holds a "Bring Your Child to Work Day". On this day, children come to their parent's workplace to observe and experience what their parents do each day. On the day the children visit, their parents leave work on time or use a half day of vacation time to return home early with their children, thus providing an opportunity for children and parents to spend additional time together. In FY2017, a total of about 1,000 children visited their parents at group companies.

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Bring Your Child to Work Day: Children enjoy the experience of lifting a hundred million yen in cash.

Nurturing the next generation

In order to contribute to the creation of an environment in which the children who will lead and shape the next generation of society may be born and raised in good health, Mizuho is implementing various initiatives related to revising support systems and work styles to be more conducive to achieving a balance between work and family commitments. In 2007, and again in 2010, 2013, and 2015, Mizuho received "Kurumin" certification from the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare, under the Japanese Act on Advancement of Measures to Support Raising Next–Generation Children.

In FY2015, six Mizuho group companies* received Platinum Kurumin certification, an award given to previously–certified Kurumin companies that make significant efforts in implementing and maintaining systems that assist workers in balancing work and childcare.

  • *Mizuho Financial Group, Inc., Mizuho Bank, Ltd., Mizuho Trust & Banking Co., Ltd., Mizuho Securities Co., Ltd., Mizuho Information & Research Institute, Inc., and Trust & Custody Services Bank, Ltd.

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Support for employees caring for aging family members

With the aim of reducing to zero the number of employees leaving the company to care for sick or aging family members, Mizuho has established a number of systems to support employees balancing work with such commitments. These include family–care leave, and shortened or staggered working hours over and above those required by law, as well as seminars aimed at relieving employees' concerns and anxieties over balancing work and family care commitments.

Reducing resignations due to aging family care obligations

Mizuho is aiming to reduce to zero the number of employees resigning due to the time restrictions and mental and physical burden involved in providing care to a sick or aging family member, despite a wish to continue working. We aim to achieve this by providing extensive support so that employees can balance work and caregiving, for example by offering flexible work arrangements and assurance of job security. In FY2016, Mizuho significantly expanded the HR support systems available with regard to working hours, leave including extended leave of absence, and subsidies, to create a work environment that aims to prevent employees from feeling the need to resign due to aging family care obligations.

Informational seminars

To help employees prepare for the possibility of suddenly and unexpectedly needing to care for an aging or sick family member, Mizuho holds occasional seminars covering the basics of balancing work with care commitments, and small group classes led by employees who have experience with this. In November 2016, we held our first one–day event for employees from all over Japan, where they could learn about support systems for caregivers and have their family members join them in discussions with outside experts about their concerns.

Family care advisory desk

Mizuho has established an advisory desk staffed by external specialists who can provide advice to employees via email or telephone regarding concerns about caring for aging or sick family members. In November 2016, we offered for the first time a weekend consultation session with external specialists and a lunchtime networking meeting for employees caring for aging or sick family members.

Support for employee networking

We aim to assist employees who are caregivers to connect with others who share their concerns and challenges relating to caring for sick or aging family members, and to swap ideas on dealing with these various issues.

The Caregivers' Network was formed in FY2016, with the aim of building connections between employees who are providing care for sick or aging family members, through activities such as lectures by visiting speakers, lunchtime meetings, and weekend events. In FY2016, about 100 people from group company locations around Japan participated in network events.

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Weekend event for caregivers

Work–life balance support systems

Childbirth and childcare support systems

System/program Applicable period Overview
Pregnancy support Up to 1 year Leave available on application by employee for the purpose of advanced fertility treatment
Pre–natal maternity leave 6 weeks before due date Leave at the request of the pregnant employee
Post–natal maternity leave 8 weeks following childbirth Prohibited from working in principle
Childcare time From birth until age 1 Guaranteed childcare time twice a day (30 minutes × 2)
Childcare leave From birth until age 2 Leave at the request of an employee who gave birth to a child; up to 5 days as paid leave
Shortened working hours From birth until the third grade of elementary school Available on application by the employee; it is also possible to combine shortened working hours and full–time work.
Staggered working hours for childcare purposes From birth until the third grade of elementary school Available on application by the employee
Exemption from overtime work for childcare purposes From birth until the third grade of elementary school Overtime work restrictions or exemption at the request of the employee
Parental leave From 1 month before the due date to 2 months after the due date An employee whose spouse or same–sex partner is giving birth may apply to take special leave of up to 5 days within the stated period
Child illness or injury leave From birth until the first grade of elementary school (about age 6 in Japan) Special leave of up to five days per child per year allowed when a child is sick; leave may be taken in half–day units; this leave is separate from annual paid leave
Subsidy for expenses for a home helper, nanny, or babysitter N/A Part or all of such expenses are covered by the subsidy.
Daycare subsidy N/A For employees who want to make an early return to work from maternity/childcare leave, Mizuho will subsidize half or a portion of the cost of daycare
Childbirth and Childcare support systems (Overview)
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Caregiver support systems

System/program Applicable period Overview
Family care leave Up to 488 work days Leave of absence granted following application by an employee with a family member requiring regular care.
Family member illness or injury leave 5 days per year, per eligible family member, during the period in which the family member requires care Special leave other than annual paid leave, which can be granted to provide care for a sick or aging family member. Up to 5 days can be taken for each family member needing care. This leave may be taken in half–day units.
Accumulated leave for caregiving Up to 180 days during the period in which the family member requires care Up to 180 days of unused annual leave can be accumulated and used at a later date to care for a sick or aging family member.
Shortened working hours for caregiving purposes The period during which the family member requires care; no upper limit Shortened work hours at the request of the employee.
(It is also possible to combine shortened hours and full–time work.)
Staggered working hours for caregiving purposes The period during which the family member requires care; no upper limit Working hours changed at the request of the employee.
Exemption from overtime work for caregiving purposes The period during which the family member requires care; no upper limit Overtime work restrictions or exemption at the request of the employee.
Reduced working days for caregiving purposes The period during which the family member requires care; no upper limit A maximum of 2 business days per week set as non–work days.
Subsidy for expenses for a home helper or a babysitter N/A Part or all of such expenses are covered by the subsidy.
Caregiver subsidy After starting to take family care leave, for the period from the day after the completion of receiving family care benefit payments (a type of public benefit), until the final day of family care leave An amount equivalent to a certain portion of the employee's salary

Flexible human resources management to support a good work–life balance

We aim to ensure that our human resources management supports a good work–life balance, for example by reducing the hurdles employees face when balancing their work with childcare or aging family member care.

System/program Overview
Relocation by request System for management track (specialist) and operations specialist track staff to request a transfer due to their spouse being relocated.
Relocation due to childcare or aging family care System for employees using childcare support systems or caring for a sick or aging family member to request a transfer to a location closer to their home.
Rehiring employees who resigned for family reasons System for the rehiring (under certain conditions and by request) of former employees who resigned for reasons such as the job relocation of a spouse, childbirth, childcare, or caregiving.