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Fired for being pregnant

genkigaijin

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I have been working at a kindergarten in Miyazaki for 10 months now. About 4 months ago, I found out that I was pregnant. I let my boss know 2 months ago and that I wanted to stay in Japan. Everything seemed okay and I was asked if I needed help with anything. Yesterday, they dropped a bomb on me: They wouldn't renew my contract in August because I'm pregnant and didn't have anyone to cover my classes for maternity leave. I'm wondering if this is legal? I know that the labor law states that they can't fire me for being pregnant, but does this also take into consideration yearly contracts? They flat out said that they didn't want to renew my contract due to my being pregnant. My husband and I are very upset. I feel like I wasn't given any notice and we might be forced to return to the US since we won't have visas here anymore (my husband is on a spouse visa). Any advice would be appreciated.
 

Majestic

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Sorry to hear your troubles. I think it will be tough to mount any successful legal challenge. They are not "firing" you, an act for which you might have recourse if you were a regular employee. Rather they are simply not renewing your contract, which is within their rights. If your yearly contract has an automatic renewal provision, and you have worked for over three years, the courts have determined that you have some reasonable expectation that your contract will again be renewed, and so you might be able to challenge the non-renewal. However, since you've only been there 10 months, I think you will have a tough time claiming that the company is unfairly not renewing your contract. Apologies for bringing bad news.

Edit: Not a lawyer. Your mileage may vary.
 

genkigaijin

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That's what I figured. I think the thing that makes me the most angry is that they've known for 2 months now and said nothing. Giving me 1 1/2 months notice is pretty crappy.
 

nekojita

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You could give these guys a call, although I'd imagine that the answer will be that there's not much you can do about it, if you weren't technically "fired":
Consultation Service | Japan Legal Support Center

They might be able to give you some advice about visas etc as well.

It is pretty crappy; it's not that they "don't have someone to cover" (not renewing your contract doesn't solve that issue, they still have to hire someone to replace you) it's that they don't want to pay maternity leave.
 

Mike Cash

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You could give these guys a call, although I'd imagine that the answer will be that there's not much you can do about it, if you weren't technically "fired":
Consultation Service | Japan Legal Support Center

They might be able to give you some advice about visas etc as well.

It is pretty crappy; it's not that they "don't have someone to cover" (not renewing your contract doesn't solve that issue, they still have to hire someone to replace you) it's that they don't want to pay maternity leave.
Doesn't look good

産休・育児休業をとると契約更新できない」と言われた | 労働問題相談室(労働相談Q&A) | TOKYOはたらくネット
 

Glenski

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They only have to give 30 days' notice by law, in case you didn't know. Talk to the Labour Standards office near you to be sure this is legal. Perhaps they still have to provide a rational reason for not renewing. I would say that having 4 months is plenty of time to find a replacement, so that shouldn't fly.

By the way, are you saying your visa period was for only a year? If it was longer, you don't lose it, you know.

Minor point: unless you are Japanese, your hubby is here on dependent visa, not spouse visa.
 
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think_too_mut

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Another minor point, depending on the personal terms the OP is on with the school, a possibility of husband replacing her (if he is a native speaker) might do the trick. Formalities can be sorted out if there is a good will.
The school has no obligation towards contracted employees past the contract duration. Seems they came forward and stated their stance before it is too late for the OP poster to board a plane.
 

genkigaijin

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Thanks for all the advice guys! I suggested my husband and they liked the idea. I guess it is easier to just get a substitue rather than find a brand new teacher. I think it'll work out. The manager is a really nice guy and went to bat for me with the owner. You could tell that he was upset and didn't want me to leave. Thanks again!!
 

Mike Cash

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haha! Thank you for telling me! I'm surprised I didn't think of it... I blame it on my pregnancy brain. =)
.
Is he currently on or eligible for a visa that will allow it?
 

genkigaijin

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Yes, he is. He applied for permission to work on his dependent visa and is allowed to work 28 hours a week. I have about 25 teaching hours a week with the rest planning/desk warming. My boss is okay with him only being able to work part time as long as the classes are covered.
 

Mike Cash

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Yes, he is. He applied for permission to work on his dependent visa and is allowed to work 28 hours a week. I have about 25 teaching hours a week with the rest planning/desk warming. My boss is okay with him only being able to work part time as long as the classes are covered.
Congratulations, that is great.

I take it you are all fixed up on your prenatal care and whatnot then?

How much longer is remaining on your visa? Will your being unemployed affect it? After all, you are down as the breadwinner and your husband is down as the dependent. How will a reversal in the situation affect you, if at all?
 

think_too_mut

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That is a good question.
The best would be, the husband gets a contract, goes to Korea for a day to get a new visa (if it cannot be sorted out locally) and then the roles are reversed.
The school must be aware of the situation, perhaps waiting to see if the husband is doing OK at work and then start the process.
 

genkigaijin

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My visa will be renewed in August. I assume that it isn't a problem since I will still be technically employed. I will just be on leave. I probably won't take the entire 14 weeks. I have talked to other Americans who have given birth in Japan. They have kept their visas without a problem.
 

Mike Cash

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Assuming can come around and bite you on the butt if you're not careful. Please confirm for a fact how things will stand for you. I'd hate for you to get a nasty surprise.

You have your 母子手帳 and all that sort of thing taken care of? All is well physically?
 

genkigaijin

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Yes. I registered at City Hall and have been seeing a doctor since I found out.
 

Mike Cash

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Yes. I registered at City Hall and have been seeing a doctor since I found out.
Very good! Have you found out what flavor you're going to have or are you saving that for a surprise? With our first child the doctor told us that absolutely 100% guaranteed it was a girl, so we only thought of girl's names. We had quite a mad scramble for something else when we learned at birth the doctor was wrong.
 

genkigaijin

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I have an appointment on Monday. We should find out then (hopefully).
 
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