On October 1, 2023, GABA introduced the government’s new Invoicing System as a requirement for all instructors. In response to concerns that some instructors may not fully grasp the details of this system, GABA has proposed a limited-time contract offering a 2% reduction in consumption tax, which will be available until March 31, 2024. After this point, instructors are required to either register with the Invoicing System or cut ties with the company, as stated directly by the company in collective bargaining discussions through August 2023.
This directive notably doesn’t come from the former management of GABA, but from the new owners at NOVA, who acquired GABA’s management rights in October 2022. This suggests that NOVA is actively pursuing the establishment of “self-employed” instructors under the Invoicing System and is considering its nationwide expansion.
Interestingly, NOVA’s owners suffered a legal setback in a case initiated by General Union back in 2019. In this lawsuit, we argued that English language instructors working under subcontracting agreements should be recognized as employees under the Labor Standards Act, entitling them to benefits like paid leave and health insurance. In a ruling delivered on September 24, 2019, the Nagoya District Court sided with us, affirming that instructors under subcontracting agreements indeed qualified as “employees under the Labor Standards Act” and were covered by the Health Insurance Act. Additionally, the court ordered compensation for damages incurred due to non-compliance with social insurance obligations.
Our primary negotiating partner is NOVA, and we are pressing for the application of the court’s decision to GABA’s instructors. Our goal is to secure the acknowledgment of instructors as employees at GABA and to ensure that proper employment contracts are in place.
This issue goes beyond the legal definitions of “employee” under the Labor Standards Act or the Trade Union Act, as established by the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare. It is critical to note that GABA’s instructors do not own the English language classrooms they work in, and they do not directly receive compensation from clients for their services. Instead, their compensation is provided as “wages” by GABA, indicating that, in essence, GABA’s instructors should be considered “employees.”
In the coming months, we plan to host seminars that focus on the theme of “employment contracts as a way of working.” We’re determined to stand up for workers’ rights and make sure everyone can enjoy their work freely – we regret that the Invoice System was ever introduced at GABA, and have resolved to make this right.