According to a recent court case in Japan, “termination due to restructuring is, in general, the dismissal of selected employees from the workforce primarily due to economic conditions of the business and not because the selected employees were at fault”.
Over the years, courts have established what is known as the Rule of Restructuring Termination (解雇権濫用法理) which lays down four factors to be considered in determining whether an employer has abused his or her right to terminate employment. The four factors are:
1. Is it necessary to reduce workforce? (人員削減の必要性があること) 2. Did the employer make efforts to avoid reduction of workforce? (解雇回避の努力をしていること) 3. Is the selection of terminating employees fair? (被解雇者の選定基準が妥当であること) 4. Did the employer discuss the matter with employees? (労働者側との協議をしていること)
These factors are not legal requirements where a lack of one voids the effect of termination. Rather, each of these factors are considered as a whole for the courts to decide whether an employer abused his or her right to terminate employment.
What raises concern with JAL’s approach to its restructuring is that employees are not aware of these management decisions until they hear it on news or read it on newspapers, according an employee of JAL. Although JAL’s new business plan received a warm welcome by the stock market, it is questionable how well the company can navigate its plans when there seems to be a lack of communication between the two opposing parties. When there is a lack of “good faith” discussions, it may not satisfy the fourth factor of the Rule.
In addition, despite the company’s announcement to continue cutting employee’s base salaries by 10%, it made no reference to cutting pilot’s salaries which in some cases exceed 30,000,000 yen (equivalent to $254,237 at 118 yen per U.S. dollar). This may cast shadow over the necessity to reduce workforce and/or making efforts to avoid reducing the workforce. In any case, JAL is in it for a rough ride.
Deeper look into an article from TIME, February 12, 2007 “Greenhouse Airlines”
Just in case you don’t know the word “fart”, it means おなら (onara) in Japanese. More and more, airplanes are becoming a great source of air pollution (大気汚染). According to a study by The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the carbon dioxide (二酸化炭素) airplanes release (放出) into the atmosphere (大気) at high altitudes (高度) have a greater warming effect (温暖化) than the same amount of carbon dioxide released on the grounds (地上で) by cars or factories. One single long distance flight (長距離飛行) can release more carbon per passenger (乗客一人あたり) than months of driving. Although air travel accounts for only 1.6% of total greenhouse gas emissions, it is the fastest growing source of air pollution in many countries. And with annual airline passengers worldwide expected to double (倍増の予想される) to 9 billion by 2025, it is a great concern.
If you really must travel by air… ↓
But perhaps (もしかしたら), a bigger concern about airplanes may be Japan Airlines. On February 6, 2007, Japan Airlines (JAL) announced its new business plan to decrease its work force from the current 53,100 to 48,800 by 2009, cutting 4,300 workers. It also announced to continue to cut employees’ base salary by 10% to reduce payroll expense (人件費) by 500 million yen. Is this legally allowed? WJA will discuss these legal issues in comparison to how U.S. airlines rose and are rising from their financial hardships.
I just arrived to Scottsdale, Arizona a few hours ago for a business event to be held from tomorrow thru Thursday. I left my apartment in the Upper East Side of Manhattan around 10:30 am, hopped on the 6 train to Grand Central Station, transferred to the cross-town S train to Times Square, and made another transfer to the 2 train to Penn Station. At Penn Station, for the first time in my life, I got on the NJ Transit which took me to Newark International Airport. Then I flew on Continental Airline to Phoenix, Arizona, and then to this hotel in Scottsdale, Arizona. The entire trip lasted about 10 hours. Then I thought to myself: can I take a day off from work for this time I spent traveling?
I don’t know what the policy is with my firm (I’m going to find out soon), but in Japan, Labor Standards Law Article 35 Paragraph 1 states that an employer shall provide its employees at least one day off from work per week. Put another way, the law doesn’t mandate a two-day-weekend (after all, if God only rested one day, why should we rest more? But good argument stands that Japan’s not a Christian nation). Basically, your employer can ask you to work on a Saturday as long as you take the Sunday off (not cool). But if you end up using that Sunday to travel from, say Tokyo to Singapore, in connection to work, now there’s a good chance your employer violated Paragraph 1 of Article 35. So in cases like these, many employers allow employees to take a day off on a future weekday.
Well, returning to my case, I'd still need to check my firm policy. But had I been working in Japan, the law doesn’t require my employer to give me a day off on another day as a make up since I didn’t work this past Saturday. Then I remembered, back at my old firm in Tokyo, our firm policy was that if we worked more than 8 hours a day on a Saturday, Sunday, or on a holiday, we were allowed to take a day off on any future weekday. Now that was cool.
All of us, at one point in our lives, experience injury at work. But not all of us know that many of these work related injuries can be compensated. Workers’ Accident Compensation Insurance（労働者災害補償保険法）Article 2 states the purpose of the law as “compensating employees incurring personal injury, disease, disability, or death by accident arising out of and in the course of employment as well in the course of commuting to work.”（「業務上の事由または通勤による労働者の負傷・疾病・障害・死亡等にたいして…保険給付を行」う）
Under this law, you’re eligible for compensation if you sprain your ankle while moving boxes at work or fall off a ladder and need stitching. You’re also eligible if you slip and fall off the stairs at a train station while commuting to work. Now don’t think “cash” just because you see the word “compensation” because the compensation is generally in the form of free medical treatments（現物給付）at designated hospitals（指定病院）. But if you’re not paying money out of your pocket for services you’d normally be required to pay for, it’s compensation for sure (and the value of the service is tax-free). So if you’re injured at work, take advantage of the system. It’s there for you.
In order to receive free medical treatment at a designated hospital, you need to submit a claims form（療養補償給付（療養給付）たる療養の給付請求書）to the hospital. This form is generally filled out by your company’s HR or by a Certified Social Insurance and Labor Consultant your company hired to perform periodic services. You may also want to know that at times, the compensation you receive through this system may not be enough to cover all your medical costs. This can occur if the initial injury you sustained at work triggers complications that the designated hospitals consider not to have direct connection with the initial injury and because there are limits as to what type of treatments qualify under the system. If have reasonable expectations that you’re more likely than not to be in this unfortunate category, you may want to protect yourself through additional private insurance
Thinking about working in Japan? Preparing to move overseas almost becomes a full-time job in the final weeks of your departure. Many people quit their jobs weeks before so they can devote their time to preparation. But what about your health insurance? Short-term health insurance plans are a great solution. ↓
Below are links to Certified Social Insurance and Labor Consultants providing services in English. Also below are useful links related to working in Japan and links to women balancing career and personal happiness. WJA realizes and promotes women's increasing value in the labor market.