Small School - Big Problems

workers rightsSmall schools can be great places to work.

They sometimes really take care of you and are appreciative of the work you put in.

They are also great places to develop a rapport with students, and to feel a part of Japan.

Unfortunately this isn't always the case.

What would you think about a one teacher school where the last three teachers have had to contact the union?

Here is the story of one such school.

One of the reasons teacher #1 resigned were excessive deductions from his salary. His contract promised him a “monthly gross salary of ¥280,000”, but the gross on his pay slips was quite a bit less than that.

Why? There were the deductions for residents’ tax. Employers are allowed to withhold this from salary and pay it to the ward office on the workers’ behalf, but in this case the amount of tax was suspiciously high.

We investigated the problem and then began trying to resolve it by persuasion. An exchange between the employer and the Union went on for some months, but without result.

Teacher #1 was replaced by teacher #2, who in turn quit before long, and later wrote to us claiming that the employer had underpaid him by ¥80,000. (Unfortunately, because he had left Japan by that time, we were unable to initiate any action on his behalf).

A pattern was emerging...

Finally, along came teacher #3, who lasted all of six months at the school before coming to us last October with complaints including... unpaid wages and excessive deductions for residents' tax.

Now (in January 2009), we seem at last to be on the verge of a breakthrough regarding the problems with this employer. After a year’s worth of complaints from us, the local Labour Standards Office is going to send to the Public Prosecutor a case against the owner of the school for violating the Labour Standards Law by not paying teacher #1 his due salary.

If convicted, the owner faces a fine and a criminal record. Also, last December the owner agreed to repay the whole amount deducted in residents’ tax from teacher #3’s salary.

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