Maternity leave and Child-raising leave in Japan

When planning for the future, finances are always high on the list. Planning a family is no different. Japan has some great government programs for parenting leave. These are paid by the government, not the employer, but the employer has a vital role to play, and the system can be a little tricky to navigate, so the union is here with some helpful pointers. As always, if you are experiencing any difficulties with your employer, feel free to contact the union for a consultation.

Part One : Shakai Hoken

It is necessary to have been enrolled in shakai hoken (social insurance) for two years to be eligible for these programs. All full-time employees should already be enrolled, and many part-time employees must be too. If you would like to be, or feel that you should be enrolled but are not, please feel to contact the union about it.

Even if an employee is enrolled in shakai hoken there can be an issue if an employer leaves a gap of a week or two between the employee’s contracts. If a worker is taken out of shakai hoken and then re-enrolled during this time, the employee may encounter difficulties in qualifying for these benefits. This can especially affect dispatch ALTs.

Part Two : Maternity leave

Maternity leave can be taken from six weeks before giving birth and it can be taken until eight weeks after the birth. If the baby is delivered late the government will cover up to 105 days. Maternity leave is paid at 66% of a mother’s regular salary.

There is another catch for workers on limited term contracts. Expecting mothers need to be employed when they start their maternity leave, so if a mother is in between contacts on the date they wish to start their maternity leave they may not qualify, so it may be necessary to change the start date to a day when they are under contract.

Applying for maternity leave is actually the responsibility of the employer. As the employer contacts Hello Work, so it is advisable to make sure that the employer is in the loop about the pregnancy and expected date of birth so things work out as smoothly as possible.

Maternity leave is filed for eight weeks after you give birth. You will have to send some paperwork to your company after your child is born such as a copy of your maternity handbook and possibly a copy of the family registry. This application must be made within 10 days of your last day of maternity leave.

Part Three : Child Care Leave

Maternity leave covers the mother’s time off work immediately before and immediately after the birth. But Child Care Leave covers time off after that. There are more bureaucratic hoops to jump through, but the good news is that this applies to fathers too.

For mothers, after the maternity leave time expires, the employer needs to submit more paper work to Hello Work at two month intervals. Also, they need to state that the mother will be returning to her  job for at least a year after her leave is up. Hello Work may even want proof that you will be employed for two years. If the employer doesn’t confirm this, the applicant will not qualify. If they can’t give you a new contract, you can ask them to write a letter stating that they intend to employ you for the following two years. The company has no obligation to do this, but it can be the only way to qualify for child care leave.

Child care leave can be taken by the father or mother and is paid at 50% of a worker’s regular salary. It is good up until the child’s first birthday. If child care services are unavailable in your area, it can be extended for up to an extra six months. This leave can also be split between the mother and father if they both qualify. It is paid in two month installments and is applied for at the end of each two month period. It can take up to a month to process as well so it is highly recommended to have savings to fall back on.

Japan has a very complex system when it comes to maternity and child care leave. It is really difficult to go through it on your own but you can always get great support and advice from the General Union as well as expat groups.

Good luck and happy parenting!

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