The joy of the unwanted holiday

Ah, Obon season. The time for holidays, visiting your home town and the graves of relatives, as well as the massive fireworks displays and, though I've missed all the local ones already, the Bon dancing festivals.
Anyone working in a decent sized Japanese company has probably had to deal with their HR department. And as with many things in Japan, there are Rules. One should try to order anything off a menu at a Japanese chain restaurant but ask for specific dietary changes to the dish. No Mayonnaise. No ham. It simply cannot be done. Much in the same way there is simply no leeway when dealing with HR and arbitrary company rules.
We were given a few days off this week, but as our schedule is unnaturally tight, the wife was busy and I didn't particularly need a summer holiday I offered to come into work and exchange my holiday days for daikyuu (paid holidays in lieu). After going through the whole process on our intranet, filling in form after form and making sure it went to the right people in the convoluted chain of hierarchy and approvals, I received a phone call from head office telling me that it's all fine and dandy, except I had asked for the daikyuu to be taken in December, when I do want a few extra days off and by when the project should be finished.
"Daikyuu," I was informed, "must be used up within three months".
"But surely a few weeks 'past the deadline' isn't that much of a problem?"
"Three months is the maximum."
"Look, we're rushed off our feet right now. I don't mind coming in on the holidays to make sure we can reach our deadlines, I just don't need to take these days off until December."
"Three months, it's the company rule."
(Though to be fair he was a lot more polite and apologetic).

So, here I am at home. With my feet up, waiting for my opponents to send in their Naked War turns. It feels like such a waste, but if you can't beat them, just sod them.
I can see where they are coming from though. Japanese employees don't seem to grasp the concept of "time off" very well, and without a little guidance and a few rules you'll soon have a company full of workaholics with 50 holiday days clocked up. Sometimes a company needs to tell their employees "now is a holiday, don't come to the office, whatever you do, for God's sake!"
Still, I tried my best to be accomodating in the face of a maddening schedule; there's nothing much I can do beyond that.

1 comment:

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