What's new

Welcome to Japan Reference (JREF) - the community for all Things Japanese.

Join Today! It is fast, simple, and FREE!

Labor Standards Law - Company Rules - Unpaid Paid leave

jt9258

先輩
Joined
6 Jun 2006
Messages
239
Reaction score
30
My wife has been working for a company since 2008, during that time she has worked her way to being a shift manager.

However over the same time period she has NEVER been paid any paid leave in line with the labor Standards law.

On the few occasions she has approached the company about taking paid leave she has only been offered excuses, with
one excuse being that the company would go bankrupt.

Recent discussions with the company regarding this matter has just resulted in the company making a small offer to
settle the matter and at the same time quoting company rules.

Based on the labor standards law and her length of service she is currently entitled to 40 days, that is 20 days for this year and 20 days
carried over from last year, however the company is stating that as she has not asked for paid leave in line with the company
rules she is not entitled to any paid leave, this means that to date they have robbed her of a total of 181 days.

My question is can a company use the company rules to avoid paying paid leave in line with the labor standards law?
 

Majestic

先輩
Joined
12 Oct 2013
Messages
1,890
Reaction score
891
The real question is: can you and your wife afford a protracted legal battle, the outcome of which is not guaranteed despite being a seemingly straightforward case.

Employees are entitled to take leave. Employers are generally not allowed to forbid an employee from taking leave if the employee requests it - but there are situations where it might be "reasonable" for an employer to ask an employee to change his/her leave plans. For example, if the employee's presence is needed for some event, the employer might reasonably ask the employee to delay his/her plans. The employer can reasonably ask employees to notify in advance of any vacation plans (i.e. the employee cannot suddenly demand to take a week vacation with 12-hours notice).

Having said all that, it isn't clear what your wife wants to do. Does she want to use her paid vacation? If so, she should apply to use the days, and if the company unreasonably refuses, you have a strong case to bring to the labor board. If you are already thinking of taking a combative posture in order to generate some advantage with the employer, you may be in for a long, difficult fight.

Follow the company rules, and your fight becomes easier. The more your wife makes the company look unreasonable, the stronger your case is. But beware, the company will fight dirty, and will put in overtime to make your wife look bad.
 

Glenski

Just me
Joined
20 Aug 2003
Messages
4,801
Reaction score
399
I agree that it sounds like they are making excuses. The labor law is quite clear. I wonder how the execs would respond if asked whether they got paid for the vacation time they took.

the company is stating that as she has not asked for paid leave in line with the company
rules
Two things here*
1. the leave is available whether she asks or not. Are they disagreeing with that?
2. the policy probably says you have to formally ask within a certain time before taking it. What is the policy?

Lastly, what is her work status? Is she classified as part-time or contract worker (yes, even since 2008)?
 

jt9258

先輩
Joined
6 Jun 2006
Messages
239
Reaction score
30
The real question is: can you and your wife afford a protracted legal battle, the outcome of which is not guaranteed despite being a seemingly straightforward case.

Employees are entitled to take leave. Employers are generally not allowed to forbid an employee from taking leave if the employee requests it - but there are situations where it might be "reasonable" for an employer to ask an employee to change his/her leave plans. For example, if the employee's presence is needed for some event, the employer might reasonably ask the employee to delay his/her plans. The employer can reasonably ask employees to notify in advance of any vacation plans (i.e. the employee cannot suddenly demand to take a week vacation with 12-hours notice).

Having said all that, it isn't clear what your wife wants to do. Does she want to use her paid vacation? If so, she should apply to use the days, and if the company unreasonably refuses, you have a strong case to bring to the labor board. If you are already thinking of taking a combative posture in order to generate some advantage with the employer, you may be in for a long, difficult fight.

Follow the company rules, and your fight becomes easier. The more your wife makes the company look unreasonable, the stronger your case is. But beware, the company will fight dirty, and will put in overtime to make your wife look bad.
We are fully aware of the cost of a legal battle and is some thing we would prefer to avoid.

Much of what you have said we are aware of, however the company has already started
to fight dirty.

My wife wanted to take time off for family matters, but the company will not acknowledge
her entitlement under the labor law, instead they quote company rules and as a result paid
leave entitlement does not exist.
 

Majestic

先輩
Joined
12 Oct 2013
Messages
1,890
Reaction score
891
My wife wanted to take time off for family matters, but the company will not acknowledge
her entitlement under the labor law, instead they quote company rules and as a result paid
leave entitlement does not exist.
I'm still in the dark as to what is going on. Paid holidays don't get added up forever. Unused holidays disappear after a time...usually the maximum number of paid holidays is 20 days. Holiday days saved up from previous years disappear in two years (I think). So you have two years to use your holiday days, otherwise they become invalid, and are lost. There seems to be an assumption that your wife has 40 days (or 181 days, or something like that) but this would be an unusual company that allows holidays to be accrued forever like this. The company is not obliged to give you money for your unused holidays. The days are there for you to use them, and if you don't use them, they disappear.

How your wife requests the days shouldn't be a huge issue. The company can't force your wife to use some onerous approval process. She can actually just tell them when she plans on using the days. She doesn't need the company's permission. However, most companies ask employees to make a formal request, usually so they can put the days in their systems and track the days used. So even though there is no law compelling your wife to make a formal request, it is normal business practice for companies to request this, and as long as the company's rules are not unusual in this regard (for instance, forcing non-Japanese employees to write out vacation requests by hand in Japanese) there is no particular legal fight to be made here.

If she wanted to use them, but the company declined, and then says "now they are gone" you have a legal case, if you are willing to fight it using real lawyers. If she didn't use them, and now is claiming she is entitled to use unused days from years ago, or that somehow the company has to compensate her for unused days for years ago, then she is picking the wrong fight. If an employee goes to the boss and starts quoting labor standards and threatening legal action, yes the company will go on full defense mode and start looking for ways to make that employee look bad in order to generate a legal advantage.

Law trumps company rules. But company rules are used as a starting point. Without knowing the company rules, and without understanding fully what your wife is claiming, it is impossible to give any more detailed advice
 

Glenski

Just me
Joined
20 Aug 2003
Messages
4,801
Reaction score
399
Much of what you have said we are aware of, however the company has already started
to fight dirty.
How so? Document everything!!

the company will not acknowledge her entitlement under the labor law, instead they quote company rules and as a result paid
leave entitlement does not exist.
Like Majestic, I am also still confused here. Just exactly what company rules/policy are there, and what do they state? A company can't make up **** that goes against the Labour Laws and get away with it.

And please answer my earlier question about whether your wife is part-time, full-time, or a contract worker.
 

jt9258

先輩
Joined
6 Jun 2006
Messages
239
Reaction score
30
I agree that it sounds like they are making excuses. The labor law is quite clear. I wonder how the execs would respond if asked whether they got paid for the vacation time they took.

Two things here*
1. the leave is available whether she asks or not. Are they disagreeing with that?
2. the policy probably says you have to formally ask within a certain time before taking it. What is the policy?

Lastly, what is her work status? Is she classified as part-time or contract worker (yes, even since 2008)?
These corporations follow their own in house rules that they have created, as a result they basically ignore the labor
law

To answer your questions:-

1) The labor law sets the legal minimum for Paid Leave, but the company disagrees by spouting the company rules.
2) Under the labor law any paid leave not taken can be taken the following year and then after that it expires, but
with this company if you do not ask it does not exist.

In a recent discussion with management they agreed that my wife was entitled to one day that she had asked for in
2016, but was denied the right to take it at that time, but as for the 20 days she is owed for last year and this year they
are saying she is not entitled to anything, which is in violation of the labor law.

My wife signs a six month contract and has done since 2008, she works full time hours, is on the company pension and
health insurance scheme and has been a shift manager for the past two years.

The reason she did not take the past 141 days she was entitled too, is because the company intimidates the staff into
thinking the company cannot pay paid leave as they would go bankrupt, and this is just one of many excuses.
 

jt9258

先輩
Joined
6 Jun 2006
Messages
239
Reaction score
30
I'm still in the dark as to what is going on. Paid holidays don't get added up forever. Unused holidays disappear after a time...usually the maximum number of paid holidays is 20 days. Holiday days saved up from previous years disappear in two years (I think). So you have two years to use your holiday days, otherwise they become invalid, and are lost. There seems to be an assumption that your wife has 40 days (or 181 days, or something like that) but this would be an unusual company that allows holidays to be accrued forever like this. The company is not obliged to give you money for your unused holidays. The days are there for you to use them, and if you don't use them, they disappear.

How your wife requests the days shouldn't be a huge issue. The company can't force your wife to use some onerous approval process. She can actually just tell them when she plans on using the days. She doesn't need the company's permission. However, most companies ask employees to make a formal request, usually so they can put the days in their systems and track the days used. So even though there is no law compelling your wife to make a formal request, it is normal business practice for companies to request this, and as long as the company's rules are not unusual in this regard (for instance, forcing non-Japanese employees to write out vacation requests by hand in Japanese) there is no particular legal fight to be made here.

If she wanted to use them, but the company declined, and then says "now they are gone" you have a legal case, if you are willing to fight it using real lawyers. If she didn't use them, and now is claiming she is entitled to use unused days from years ago, or that somehow the company has to compensate her for unused days for years ago, then she is picking the wrong fight. If an employee goes to the boss and starts quoting labor standards and threatening legal action, yes the company will go on full defense mode and start looking for ways to make that employee look bad in order to generate a legal advantage.

Law trumps company rules. But company rules are used as a starting point. Without knowing the company rules, and without understanding fully what your wife is claiming, it is impossible to give any more detailed advice
I have explained that paid leave can only be carried over to the second year and then it expires.

Our issue is that the company has set up company rules, to avoid granting paid leave in line with the labor law.

Most staff never ask for paid leave, those that do are only offered up excuses why they cannot take it, the result is
that the company has successfully avoided the need to pay paid leave through its company rules and lies.

If it was a simple case that my wife lost the right to paid leave because she did not take it and it expired we would not
have an issue. Our argument is that past paid leave was only lost because the company used lies and intimidation to
avoid honoring their legal obligation to enable staff to take it.
 

Majestic

先輩
Joined
12 Oct 2013
Messages
1,890
Reaction score
891
If you documented evidence of your wife asking for holiday days, and being denied, you have a fairly straightforward case - but I repeat my first comment; you will need legal muscle and patience in order to get a legal judgment. And even then, the outcome may not be as good as you expect.

All companies must register their company rules with the local labor offices, so if your company's rules are in violation of the labor laws, this is an easy fix (but the "win" here is unlikely to bring any compensation here for you. It is more likely a fine for the company, or even more likely, a warning to change the company rules.).

Regarding your wife's situation; you need legal help to sort through your issues: One of the issues is this renewing six-month contract. Another issue is the (apparent) abuse on the part of your company. But bear in mind that even after a long legal battle, the only "victory" you may get is a small compensation. At the end of the day, it sounds like that company is a terrible place to work for.
 

Glenski

Just me
Joined
20 Aug 2003
Messages
4,801
Reaction score
399
I agree 100% with Majestic. Talk to a lawyer to get the best advice from now on. Or talk to the Labour Standards Office in your area.
 

jt9258

先輩
Joined
6 Jun 2006
Messages
239
Reaction score
30
We have already decided not to visit a lawyer, as we are fully of how the legal system works and what the
possible out come would be even if my wife wins the case and as the amounts are small its not worth the
costs involved.

Here in Japan when you win a case the final fee you pay the lawyer is a success fee and this can be larger
than the actual award you receive.

Instead we are exploring other options, one of which is for my wife to leave the job and claim the 40 days
she is currently owed.
 

tomoni

Sempai
Donor
Joined
15 Apr 2014
Messages
197
Reaction score
85
I agree that it sounds like they are making excuses. The labor law is quite clear. I wonder how the execs would respond if asked whether they got paid for the vacation time they took.
To the original poster-I recommend that you contact the rodosho And get accurate information from them.

Sometimes a simple contact from them saying that they’re looking into something is enough for a company to follow the rules.

Off topic (a bit)
It would be my guess that they DID NOT take leave or vacation. This is not that unusual in Japanese companies for people not to take paid leave. I haven’t worked in industry for over 10 years now, But at the time-it was very rare for people to take more than a couple days holiday a year.

Another thing that people may not consider, is that if you leave a company, normally it’s very hard to get a job at the same level-in terms of position-and in terms of company.

So this normally means that you end up taking a position, and a pay cut. Another issue of course is when you’re with a bigger company you have so many ties to the company, such as a bank loan from a bank in their group, insurance from their policy, savings to the company union-etc. etc. so following the company culture normalized this.

The people I’m still in touch with, still take very few holidays, and they’re not working at black companies. This is simply a big part of corporate culture in Japan. However, I think the culture is changing, in part because companies are no longer honouring their commitments to lifetime employment.

Restructuring, cost down, early forced retirement, have all taken their toll on the company or corporate culture of working for the benefit of the company would take care of you.

Cheers
 

Glenski

Just me
Joined
20 Aug 2003
Messages
4,801
Reaction score
399
if you leave a company, normally it’s very hard to get a job at the same level-in terms of position-and in terms of company.
That might apply to Japanese, but just how often does it actually apply to foreigners here?
 

tomoni

Sempai
Donor
Joined
15 Apr 2014
Messages
197
Reaction score
85
That might apply to Japanese, but just how often does it actually apply to foreigners here?
Hi Glenski

Thanks for your reply. I may have misunderstood you intention when I replied because I had assumed that the managers in question were Japanese
"labor law is quite clear. I wonder how the execs would respond if asked whether they got paid for the vacation time they took."

and then I went on about why this might be the case for these Japanese managers. I was replying specifically to your question about the OP's managers, and why it would be quite likely that their answer would be - hey we don't take holidays either....

Sorry if I misunderstood what you were saying/ suggesting.


"but just how often does it actually apply to foreigners here"

I think the answer would very much depend on if you were referring to a Seishain position or not. If you are referring to contracted positions, IMO companies do not care if you worked elsewhere, but if you were moving from one Seishain position to another, I think the cancer of getting rehired as a Seishain for a foreigner would be even lower than for a Japanese person. (IMO and experience)

The obvious exception would be if the person were headhunted (but most headhunting for non-japanese in my LIMITED anecdotal experience is a contract offer, not a seishain offer). But just last week, I know of a non Japanese in a big Japanese company that was asked to think about joining another company as Seishain in a higher position. (This person is at management level)

Cheers
 

Deibiddo

後輩
Joined
8 May 2013
Messages
93
Reaction score
26
Join a union like the General Union or Tozen. It'll make life so much easier
 

Create an account or login to comment

You must be a member in order to leave a comment

Create account

Create an account on our community. It's easy!

Log in

Already have an account? Log in here.

Top Bottom