NOVA not enrolling foreign instructors on social insurance

Mar 3, 2005

Nova, the major English conversation school, (general headquarters: Osaka City) has not been enrolling their foreign instructors on the employees health insurance and pension scheme as required by law, it came to light on the 3rd. Nova has admitted that there are employees who are not enrolled, but claimed that “foreigners who will go back to their own countries will not receive the pension in the future, therefore the present scheme has some problems,” while the Ministry of Health and Welfare says “if this is true, it is a violation of the law which stipulates the obligation to enroll.” The Social Insurance Agency is going to conduct an inquiry into this. The General Union, a trade union that foreign teachers join (Osaka City), held a press conference to disclose the fact at the Osaka Judicial Press Club in Kita-ku, Osaka City on the same day. The union is considering filing a complaint with the prosecutors’ office for violation of the Health Insurance Law and Employees’ Pension Law. According to the union, Nova has approximately 5000 foreign teachers it has not enrolled on the health insurance and pension scheme. While not informing the teachers that enrollment on to the scheme is compulsory at recruitment, they introduce overseas travel insurance by a Nova-group private insurance company, as a substitute for the health insurance. The Health Insurance Law and Employees’ Pension Law stipulate that the company should enroll full-time workers working for more than 2 months on the social insurance, regardless of their nationality. Foreign teachers at Nova are normally employed on a one-year renewable contract, therefore, “they are eligible for enrollment,” the union says. When they are not enrolled, employees will not be able to receive sufficient compensation when they fall ill, nor receive the pension when they are old. The Insurance Section of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Labour points out that “if they are not enrolling those who are eligible, it is a problem.” Nova’s publicity officer says that “the present scheme has problems for foreign workers. It is necessary to design a system that suits the status quo.” On the introduction of the private insurance, he described it as “a product suitable to foreigners who are not familiar with Japan, with introduction service for interpreters and medical institutions.” Robert Bisom, an instructor from the U.S. who attended the press conference, said, “if I had a sufficient explanation, I wouldn’t have taken out the private policy the company presented. It is sad that we are not enrolled on (the social insurance).”