English-speaking Japanese lawyer at central Tokyo, handling immigration/asylum cases, family law and employment law matters, and medical malpractice cases.

Employment Law Matters:

Employment Law Matters

Dismissal, non-payment of agreed salaries and other remunerations, and work-related injuries are some of the more serious incidents of a worker’s life.

Japan has a set of laws and regulations that are meant to bring protection of workers as well as fairness into the working environment, the first and foremost of which is the Labour Standards Act. The Act provides that an employer must not engage in discriminatory treatment with respect to wages, working hours or other working conditions by reason of the nationality, creed or social status of any worker. Thus, those from overseas are equally protected as a worker under the law.

In order to enjoy the law’s protection, which encompasses equal treatment, protection against unfair dismissal and degradation of working conditions, payment of wages and other remunerations including increased payment for overtime work, limit to working hours, rest periods and days off, paid leave, protection of safety and health at work-place, compensations for work-related injuries, unemployment benefits, etc.,you need to be a “worker.” And you are a “worker” if you are employed at an enterprise or office and receive payment as remuneration for your labour. (Those who are employed by governments (both central and local) are, technically speaking, not “workers” in the above sense, but they also enjoy comparable protection by the applicable laws.)

Thus, most of those from overseas working in Japan enjoy such protection as mentioned above.* Full-time workers, temporary workers, part-time workers and Arubaitos are all workers and protected as such. Thus, in addition to protection vis-a-vis the employer (e.g. dismissal), they are covered by the government compensation scheme for work-related injuries and medical insurance scheme, even if they do not have valid visas. They can claim unemployment benefits if their visas allow them to work..

*It is probably only those expatriates who earn large amount of money under direct contract with overseas head office that are outside the scope of the protection of workers, though it is only after careful study of the terms and conditions of the contract and actual working situation and environment that we can safely say so.

It is always important, however, for foreign workers not to lose sight of the immigration control requirements. When they change jobs, for example, they will have to do necessary reporting to the Immigration Bureau. There are those who are not allowed to work without specific permit. If you are one of those, then get the permit without fail; otherwise serious troubles may well follow.

When you have a problem with the employer, it is crucial that you have legal consultation as early in the chain of events as possible. It is often the case that when a worker comes to a lawyer for consultation it is too late to do anything to save him/her.

Equally, it is important for the employer to have legal advice in advance if he is planning to make a move. There are rules to observe. There are wise steps to take and there are pitfalls as well.