A New Fight For Shakai Hoken At NOVA

Nov 17, 2015

The law actually states that a company MUST enroll all of its employees in Shakai Hoken. However, for practical purposes, the Japan Pension Service (JPS) has internal guidelines whereby they will only enforce the law in cases where an employee is working  “three quarters of a full-time worker”, which many have (erroneously) interpreted to mean “thirty hours or more”.

This has allowed companies to perpetuate the myth that they have “no obligation” to enroll an employee in Shakai Hoken, if the employee is working less than thirty hours a week. This has given rise to the infamous “29.5 Hour Rule” that is often repeated by people and websites that take the word of these companies at face value.

NOVA and Independent Contracts

To skirt around the law and avoid the need to enroll their employees, NOVA introduced a dishonest six-minute unpaid break between lessons, shaving just enough minutes off of people’s actual working hours to bring their “official” working hours below the thirty-hour benchmark, and then claiming that they are justified in making many teachers – who would otherwise unquestionably qualify for shakai hoken – ineligible to seek enrollment (without a fight).

Let’s be honest, though: we all know that teachers need to work in those precious minutes between lessons. Choosing lessons; completing student records; taking orders from staff members; reviewing notes; planning what they will cover in the next lesson; the list of things that someone can (and must!) squeeze into that time is as varied as it is extensive!

To add further insult to injury, NOVA’s latest shenanigans involve instituting an “independent contract” that has the hours necessary to unequivocally see them enrolled in shakai hoken, with the caveat that the teachers in question are classified as being “independent” contractors, thereby allowing NOVA to claim that as these teachers are not “employees”, per se, they have no obligation to grant them their Shakai Hoken rights.

What Can Be Done?

With some companies, the General Union has been able to negotiate a compromise in which the company will slide union members wanting shakai hoken into the system. The union has been trying to negotiate a similar system with NOVA, but little progress has been made.

Our next step will be to lodge formal applications for enforced enrollment (Kakunin Seikyu) with the Japan Pension Service. We are in the midst of preparing these applications, and expect to submit them in the coming months.

Will we win the forced enrollment?

This is a difficult question to answer, but we do have an ace up our sleeve!

Two years ago, we began a similar case for a dispatch ALT who was technically working 29.5 hours per week. The initial application for enforced enrollment took six months, but was ultimately rejected on questionable grounds. Naturally, we appealed the decision… but, again, the application was rejected.

At this point, both the General Union and union member decided not to let the matter drop, and we sued the Pension Agency – and won! (“GU Court Victory To Have Major Impact”).

The ruling was quite strong, and we expect that it will have an effect upon the outcome in cases involving of NOVA employees.

Please contact us if you are working at NOVA, and are interested in being involved in our case for shakai hoken.

Do you work at NOVA? Are you tired of NOVA’s dishonest contracts and exploitative antics? Do you want to do something about it? Contact the General Union, and let us see how we can help you.


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