ENDING EMPLOYMENT IN JAPAN – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
In Japan, the start of April is the traditional time to change and start a new job. If you’re thinking about resigning and changing employers or if you think your employer is thinking about letting you go, its best to know what your rights and obligations are before its too late.
★Resigning from a Job – How much notice do you have to give?
This question is not covered under the Labor Standards Law (労働基準法) but is based on the Civil Code articles 627 & 628.It depends on whether you have a limited or an unlimited term contract, and if you have a limited term contract what contract year you are in.
In an unlimited term contract, two weeks notice is sufficient and a reason does not need to be provided. Additionally, if an unavoidable cause exists, immediately termination of the contract is possible. In a fixed term contract as a rule, employees can not resign without a reason.
In the first year of a one year contract an employee can resign at either the end of the contract or quit by following the procedures laid out in the contract for giving notice.
After the first year of a renewed one year contract – two weeks notice is sufficient and a reason does not need to be provided.
From your employer’s perspective, even if you ask to be released “immediately” the employer may have difficulty in passing your work to another employee or hiring a suitable replacement in time. To avoid possible confrontation It is recommended that you talk with your employer about the timing of your resignation and find a solution that is best for both of you.
★Fines & Damages
Your employer cannot set a predetermined fine for quitting during your contract (Labour Standards Law – Article 16). Furthermore your employer must provide you with all outstanding wages, tax forms and a certificate of employment within seven days of you leaving your job (Labour Standards Law – Article 23). However, if an employee resigns without giving appropriate notice as set out in their contract, it is possible for the company to claim damages against that employee in a civil court.
★Advance notice of dismissal In principle, when dismissing a worker the employer is required, to give the worker an advance notice of at least 30 days before dismissal. In case a dismissal notice is not given at least 30 days in advance of the date of dismissal, the employer must at least pay the average wages for the number of days falling short of the 30-day dismissal notice allowance required by law.
For example if employer X wants to dismiss employee Y with immediate effect without notice – employer X must pay the 30-day dismissal notice allowance.
★The fine print…
However the above does not apply when the employer becomes unable to continue business owing to uncontrollable circumstances such as a natural disaster, or where the employer dismisses the worker for reasons in which the worker is responsible for being dismissed. In these cases the employer has to obtain approval for exemption from the Labour Standards Inspection Office (Labour Standards Law – Articles 20 and 21).
★If you are sick or injured –
In principle, an employer can not dismiss a worker, during their absence and within 30 days after their absence, who has been injured or become sick in connection with their work and is absent from work in order to receive medical treatment (Labour Standards Law – Article 19).
★Getting fired during a probation period …
Regardless of the length of probation written into your contract your employer cannot fire you without notice after you have completed 14 days of your contract. However during the first 14 days your employer may fire you without notice (Article 21).
★The best advice is …
If you employer fires you or does not renew your contract, the best advice would be to document everything (dates, times, who, what, etc) and request everything in writing. If you feel mal-treated consult a lawyer, a labour union, or the Labour Bureau before you sign anything.
Help & Assistance
To avoid the possibility of future disputes, you should obtain written confirmation of working conditions (a labor contract or company regulations), such as particularly wages, working hours, terms of employment, and other conditions. n principle, workers in Japan, regardless of nationality, are governed by Japanese labour laws and regulations such as the Labor Standards Law, Minimum Wage Act, and Workmen’s Compensation Insurance Act. For up to date information please see the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare’s foreign worker’s guidebook at www.mhlw.go.jp/english/org/policy/p43.html
Related Articles on the NIC Website www.nic-nagoya.or.jp/en –
National Pension Scheme – NIC English Site > Daily Living > Pension & Insurance – Unemployment Insurance – NIC English Site > Can you help me
★The General Union – Tokai Nagoya Chubu Branch
ゼネラルユニオン – 東海 名古屋 中部支部
Provides support to workers of any nationality who are experiencing workplace difficulties in Japan. They can help in cases of non-payment of wages, unfair firings, and negotiate with management to defend and improve conditions. The General Union is an NPO and funds are limited, so those wishing to receive help are required to join and pay membership. Support is available in both Japanese and English.
★Aichi Labour Bureau 愛知労働局- Assistant Counselor for Foreign Workers
This free service provides counseling in English or Portuguese for concerns about working conditions such as dismissal, non-payment of wages, working hours, workers’ accident compensation insurance, workers’ accident compensation pension, industrial safety, and health care at the workplace. Hours: 10:00-12:00 & 13:00-16:00 – English on Mondays and Thursdays. Portuguese on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Closed: Weekend, holidays, and December 29 to January 3. Phone: 052-972-0253 Address: Godo Chosha Building #2 2F, Sannomaru 2-5-1, Naka-ku, Nagoya Access: A 3 minute walk from Shiyakusho Subway Station, exit 5 Website: www.aichi-rodo.go.jp/english