Union Kicks Off Unlimited-Term Contract Campaign

The changes to the Labour Contract Law allowing workers to apply for an unlimited term contract will start on 1 April 2018.

That means that any worker who has worked LONGER than five years as of this date can make a written application to their employer asking that their contract is converted to an unlimited term contract - and the employer must accept this request.

Sounds simple, right? Well... yes and no.

Yes: it’s simple because the law is rather clear.

No: because things are never so clear cut.

Our experience as a union over the past twenty-five years is that many employers, given the opportunity, tend to either ignore the law entirely or invent creative ways to otherwise evade it.

While the General Union has been talking with employers about unlimited term contracts over the past few years (and we don't see widespread evidence of evasion in Kansai and Tokai at employers with General Union members), we believe that doing things together and through the union will lead to the best outcome.

Therefore, if you are a union member working at selected workplaces, you will have received an email from the union asking you two simple questions:

1. Will you have worked continuously at your current job LONGER than five years by 31 March 2019?

2. Do you want to apply for an unlimited term contract?

Let’s bring you through the two questions using some examples and the union’s plans afterwards.

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Question 1: Will you have worked continuously at your current job for LONGER than five years by March 31st, 2019? 

Example 1
Started work on 1 April 2013
(date the law came into effect)

Contract 1: 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2014
Contract 2: 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2015
Contract 3: 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016
Contract 4: 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017
Contract 5: 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018

FIVE YEARS COMPLETED

Since the first contract started when the law came into effect, the whole first year counts.


Contract 6: 1 April to 31 March 2019.




This will make it LONGER than five years so please take the survey. you can apply for an unlimited term contract at any time AFTER 1 April 2018.

Apply for unlimited term contract after 1 April 2018 which we will do together as a group through the union.


Employer must accept application and apply it to the next contract.

Contract 7: 1 April 2019 to NO END DATE

Example 2
Started work on 2 March 2013
(before the law came into effect)

Contract 1: 2 March 2013 to 1 March 2014
Contract 1: 2 March 2014 to 1 March 2015
Contract 1: 2 March 2015 to 1 March 2016
Contract 1: 2 March 2016 to 1 March 2017
Contract 1: 2 March 2017 to 1 March 2018

Five years NOT complete

Since the first contract started before the law came into effect, the whole one year does NOT count

Contract 6: 2 March 2018 to 1 March 2019
FIVER YEARS COMPLETED

Contract 7: 2 March 2019 to 2 March 2020

This will make it LONGER than five years so please take the survey, BUT the application cannot be made until 2 March 2019.


Apply for unlimited term contract after 2 March 2019 which will do together as a group through the union (unless we have deemed this issue to have already been resolved at your employer).

Employer must accept application and apply it to the next contract.

Contract 8: 2 March 2019 to NO END DATE

For the record, the employer is not allowed to non-renew your contract after having received the request to convert to an unlimited term contract.

EXCEPTION
If you work at a university or a junior college (tandai), and you’ll see this on the survey too, there is an exception. If a university or tandai claim that there is a research element in the job, then you must work LONGER than 10 years before applying, but regardless what you’ve heard, you should fill out the survey if you will have worked longer than five years before 31 March 2019. The union may challenge this ten-year exemption as some workplaces.

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Question 2: Do you want to apply for an unlimited term contract?

We would advise all members to apply except in very certain circumstances - and that’s why we’re examining each member’s situation.

Moving on to an unlimited term contract does not mean you have to become full-time and give up your part-time status.

It doesn’t mean that your employer will put you on new substandard working conditions (as the law expressly prohibits changes to the working conditions).

An unlimited term contract means ONE THING ONLY: it removes the arbitrary end date of your contract meaning that an employer must have good reasons to get rid of you, not simply END OF CONTRACT.

So, You filled out that survey. What next?

We will examine your information and if you are eligible to make an application for an unlimited term contract in April 2018, we will send you the application form.

You will need to fill it out and return it to the union.

Then, after we’ve gathered up to the application forms from all of your fellow union members at that workplace, we will submit it all to your employer - and may also include a demand that they accept the applications as per the law, and not make any negative changes to your employment contract.

If you’re not eligible in April 2018, we will keep your information in our files and remind you at the right time to make the application if it’s before 31 March 2019.

Things may differ in what we do after April 2018 because we feel that once we’ve established this at your workplace, we’re not going to have to do the same thing forever and ever.

The union will also use this opportunity to appeal to non-union members in workplaces where we are doing this campaign and will supply leaders and members with membership applications (and applications for unlimited term contracts) to distribute to friends and colleagues.

If you are a member and have not received an email from the union, remember that we are starting this at only certain workplaces for the time being.

Please feel free to give us a call and ask if you don’t understand or wonder why you didn’t get an email.


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