Illegal Contract Clauses (V-I) – World Kinder International School

Mar 11, 2016


Before we begin, it’s important to remember the “golden rule” of the Labor Standards Act which gives us the basis to say, where applicable, that certain contract clauses are illegal:

Article 13. (Contract Violating This Act)
A labor contract which provides for working conditions which do not meet the standards of this Act shall be invalid with respect to such portions. In such a case the portions which have become invalid shall be governed by t he standards set forth in this Act.

In a nutshell, anything that goes against the law is superseded by it (making it illegal).

So, with that in mind…


4. Salary:
a. 235,000 Yen per month full-time before tax.
b. 1,500 Yen per additional overtime work before tax.

While not illegal, we’ve highlighted it because it provides context for the “morally questionable” side of this dissection, and we’ll be bringing it up a few times. It’s an average salary for this kind of work, but that’s not the issue.

That part comes next…


5. Working Hours
a. Monday to Friday, 8:00 ~ 18:10.

In a standard “Monday to Friday” working week, the employee would be expected to work from 8:00am until 6:10pm. Doing the math, such a week would result sixty one hours of work per week (rounded up).

That’s only assuming that an employee begins work at exactly 8:00am and leaves work at exactly 6:10pm, too. It doesn’t take into account all of the extra things that are work but not counted as work (bearing in mind that “work that isn’t counted as work” will often be closely scrutinized by a Labor Standards Office, as they count it as unpaid work).

Assuming that an employee is permitted forty-five minutes of rest per day, that would still clock in at around fifty six hours of work a week.

That’s a real problem, and here’s why:

Article 32. (Working Hours)
(1) An employer shall not have a worker work more than 40 hours per week, excluding rest periods.
(2) An employer shall not have a worker work more than 8 hours per day for each day of the week, excluding rest periods.

However, that’s not all…


5. Working hours:
b. Wednesday until 18:30, in which case the employee may finish work on another given day earlier by 20 minutes.
c. Occasional Saturdays or Sundays for special events.

As we can see, working nine hours a day, five days a week, isn’t the extent of the working hours that World International Kinder School expects its employees to work: their working hours are extended on Wednesdays, and “occasional” Saturdays or Sundays, which may or may not add a further nine hours to the total average.

So, not only is World Kinder International School breaking labor law by forcing employees to work more than forty hours a week, they’re also breaking labor law by making them work for more than eight hours per day.

Suffice to say, that’s quite a notable violation of the law.

It gets worse, though…


Article 32-4-2.
In the event that … the average weekly hours the employer has the worker work exceeds 40 hours, the employer shall pay increased wages for the working hours that exceed 40 hours.

If an employer has an employee work for more than forty hours a week, anything over that forty hour mark has to be paid at an overtime rate.

Now, while it is illegal to make an employee work for more than forty hours, there are conditions and circumstances (often in agreement with a trade union) that such overtime work can be permitted in certain situations.

Those circumstances are somewhat in-depth, however, and outside the scope of this article.

For now, it’s enough to say that it’s unlikely that a private company such as World Kinder International School has met those conditions.


Taking Article 32-4-2 into further consideration, we also see that World Kinder International School should be paying an employee somewhere between 15 and 20 hours of overtime pay, per week.

The Labor Standards Act stipulates that such overtime pay should be calculated like so:

Article 37. (Increased Wages for Overtime Work, Work on Days Off and Night Work)
(1) In the event that an employer extends the working hours or has a worker work on a day off … the employer shall pay increased wages for work during such hours or on such days at a rate no less … than 25 percent and no more than 50 percent over the normal wage per working hour or working day.

However, as we’ve noted, the World Kinder International School contract states:

4. Salary:
a. 235,000 Yen per month full-time before tax.
b. 1,500 Yen per additional overtime work before tax.

That “1,500 Yen” would appear to be a set amount, rather than a percentage of the normal wage per working hour / day.

It seems fair to say that World International Kinder School is not only failing to pay its employees for all of the hours that they work beyond the forty hour limits, but – even if that WAS paid as overtime pay – the company is not paying overtime at the rate it is legally required to pay, either.


8. Working days will include:
a. Excursions, parties, entry day, graduation day and any other special event day as indicated by and set by the school calendar, and will not be counted as overtime. During this time, the Employee is requires to be at work until required work is completed.
b. Days when the Kindergarten is closed but the Eikaiwa or after school program is open.
c. Days when the Eikaiwa or after school program is closed but the Kindergarten is open.
d. Days when Kindergarten finishes early, and Eikaiwa or after school program classes are scheduled.

If the fifty to sixty hour working week, the possibility of additional weekend work, and what seems to be a lack of overtime pay, all weren’t bad enough, this clause of the World International Kinder School contract essentially gives the employer carte blanche to extend the working hours to cover any situation, on day, until any time, without overtime pay.

Essentially, the employer has granted themselves the right to say, “these are you working hours, unless I say otherwise, and you are required to do what I say without question.”

This is not fair employment – this is compensated servitude.


For the sake of argument, let’s say that you decide that you’re unhappy with these conditions.

Let’s say that, after working for more than sixty hours (without overtime pay), you’re a little bit upset at what appears to be first-world serfdom. You wanted to be a teacher – you didn’t want to be a serf.

Well, in the second part of this article, have I got some good news for you!

(Spoiler: it’s not really good news.)