Uniqlo starts work early so workers can learn English

09/01/2011
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TOKYO (majirox news) — Retail clothing giant Uniqlo Co. will start work at its Tokyo and Yamaguchi offices from Sept. 11 at 7 a.m. to allow employees to finish early so they can take classes in English and business, company officials said.

The early start will not apply to all employees, with exemptions granted to sections that deal with others outside the company during regular business hours and individuals who provide written requests because of long commutes that make arriving on time impossible.

“Applying the 7 a.m. start to everyone would be pointless for people who deal with those outside of the company as they couldn’t do their jobs properly, so it’s not like we’re binding everybody to it,” a Uniqlo spokesman said. “All we’re doing is changing the time schedule of our official working hours.”

Uniqlo hopes that its 7 to 4 working day will lead to employees using the added time after work to improve their business skills.

“Companies only grow if the individuals within them grow, so we’d like to see people use this time to input all sorts of knowledge,” the spokesman said.

Uniqlo will make English its official language from March 2012. Over a two-year transitional period leading up to that date, the company has instructed employees to study English. The company will pay the costs of employees learning English online if they attain a certain level of achievement.

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