According to Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, while the percentage of men taking parental leave in the country is growing each year, it was still at 10% as of 2020.

In Japan, it’s not uncommon to hear accounts of men who were contacted for work-related matters even while they were on parental leave, or ended up working because the company was understaffed.

It seems that there still needs to be more understanding at the office and improvements in corporate culture in order for employees to take proper parental leave.

Boss has "amazing" response to parental leave request

Here's an episode from かなか Kanaka (@KanakaTsubaki), a mother who gave birth to a boy in 2019.

Kanaka's husband took parental leave but when he did so, his boss's response was amazing.

Called in for a private conversation

Before Kanaka gave birth, her husband had just changed jobs and joined a new company. Some people may be hesitant to suddenly take a long leave of absence from a company they just joined.

Even so, Kanaka's husband decided to take two weeks of parental leave.

Soon after he informed the company of his decision, his boss called him into a conference room for a private conversation.

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Once they were alone in the room, his grim-faced boss said...

"What can you do with a mere two weeks of parental leave?"

Her husband's boss didn't ask: "Are you really going to take all of two weeks?" as he was afraid he might. Instead, he asked him: "Are you only going to take two weeks?"

While there is still a lack of understanding about men taking parental leave in Japan, it's nice to know that there are some people who do understand and who are concerned for their employees in this way.

Kanaka and her husband discussed the issue again, and he eventually decided to take two weeks of childcare leave after all, even though he had his boss' blessing to take a longer leave if he needed it.

But his boss' amazing response didn't end there...

Kanaka's husband had applied for parental leave but he still had to work for a while before his leave began.

The boss said, "You never know what can happen during pregnancy and childbirth," and instructed her husband to CC him in all work-related emails.

By knowing the details of her husband's work, the boss created an environment in which he would be able to handle any issue that might come up during his absence.

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Thanks to this, if any emergency were to happen to Kanaka, her husband would be able to rush to her side immediately.

Creating such a work environment must have been emotionally reassuring for the couple.

Labor began 10 days before the due date...

Kanaka says that her labor began 10 days before her due date.

When her husband contacted the company to let them know, he received this response from his boss:

"Understood. Please turn off your work cell phone now. Good Luck!"

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Her husband's boss took over all of his work and assigned it to other members of the department.

Subsequently, Kanaka was able to safely give birth to her son. When her husband contacted his boss to tell him that it was a safe delivery, this is what he said:

"A 'safe delivery' only means that, fortunately for you both, she is not in a critical condition. Please take care of your wife. You don't need to contact me during your parental leave."

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The boss was concerned not only about Kanaka's safe delivery, but also for her well-being afterward.

She also says that while her husband was on parental leave, he did not contact his boss even once, just as his boss had requested.

Baby shower gift prepared in-house...

In addition to taking care of Kanaka and her husband, the boss also handled arrangements for a baby shower gift.

He set up a donation box in the company with a limit of 500 yen per person and sent the couple a gift certificate with the money collected.

This was the solution he came up with after asking employees who had children what kind of baby shower gifts they recommended in order to come up with a gift that would not be a burden on either Kanaka or her husband.

The boss really deserves praise for his ability to show kindness and consideration in various ways.

The heartwarming episode elicited comments online such as:

  • "What a wonderful boss. I want all companies to know about this episode."
  • "It brought tears to my eyes. It was truly a god-level response. Not only the boss, but also the co-workers who cooperated with him were wonderful."
  • "I strongly thought that I want to be such a boss. He must be a wonderful person who is well-liked by people, someone you'd trust to follow anywhere."
  • "I was impressed by the way the boss handled the situation. As for the baby shower gift, I really like the idea of setting up a donation box. I'll use that one next time."

Incidentally, Kanaka heard that the boss himself had taken a six-month childcare leave in the past.

Although he was later transferred and is no longer in the same department as her husband, she is still sincerely grateful to him.

Let's hope that more people will understand and be considerate when it comes to parental leave as this boss was.

For those who read Japanese, here is the first of Kanaka's Tweets. Click on "Read the full conversation on Twitter" to read the rest:

By - grape Japan editorial staff.