The goal of the meeting was, that since visas and health insurance will be linked as of 1 April 2010, to increase the chances for our members enrollment in Shakai Hoken (employee Health and Pension Insurance). The unions did not only deal with the large eikaiwa chains which hire mostly full time workers, but also with part time workers including those at universities and high schools, and teachers dispatched as ALTs.
Of course, in a meeting like this you never walk away with clear answers, as the bureaucrats that we dealt with have one clear job, to leave all sides confused and avoid answering as much as possible, but we did leave with a few clear points:
1. The Social Insurance Agency representative admitted that the ¾ rule which keeps many of our members off social insurance is not an enrollment guideline, but rather an internal administrative guideline.
2. Companies are NEVER advised not to enroll if the worker is under ¾ of the hours of a full timer. In fact, a company can enroll who ever they wish and the Social Insurance Agency will NOT refuse applications from employers if the worker is under ¾ of the hours of a full timer.
3. Companies are also NEVER advised to dis-enroll those who fall below ¾ of the hours of a full timer after they have already been enrolled.
The problem therefore only occurs when workers, after being refused enrollment by their employer, file an individual claim for enrollment with the Social Insurance Office. At this point many applications are turned down because the worker falls below the ¾ mark. Why does this happen? An answer was not forthcoming but the Social Insurance Agency’s representative did state that the ¾ issue would not be judged so rigidly on appeal.
It also looks like the Social Insurance Agency would be investigating the Minato Social Insurance Office, based on our information from a large eikaiwa school that they were told that they could not enroll, and had to dis-enroll, those falling below the ¾ mark.
In the coming weeks the General Union will be filing more individual claims at the Social Insurance Office to see if we can push through our demands that social insurance be made available to all workers.