As always, if you are experiencing any difficulties with your employer, feel free to contact the union for a consultation at: https://www.generalunion.org/consultation
Part One: Shakai Hoken
It is necessary to be enrolled in shakai hoken (social insurance) to be eligible for maternity leave, and to have been in employment insurance for at least a year for child-raising leave.
All full-time employees should already be enrolled in these insurance programs, 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 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.
If a mother is in between contacts on the date they wish to start their maternity leave, they may not qualify.
Therefore, 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, it is advisable to make sure that the employer is in the loop about the pregnancy and expected date of birth so that 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.
Mothers can take this leave between the day when the maternity leave time expires and two days before the first birthday of the child.
Fathers can take this leave between the day a child is born and two days before the first birthday of the child.
The requirements for this leave are as follows:
a. The worker is raising a child younger than one-year old.
b. The worker has been working for one employer for one year or more.
c. It is NOT CLEAR that the contract term of the worker expires by one day before when the child becomes 18 months old.
The employer is responsible for submitting paperwork to Hello Work.
Child Care Leave can be taken by either the father or mother and is paid at 2/3 of a worker’s regular salary for 6 months and then 50% after that.
If child care services are unavailable in your area, it can be extended for up to an extra one year.
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 various expat and/or social media groups.
Good luck, and happy parenting!