“You’re fired!” reflects America’s at-will employment doctrine (自由雇用主義). In U.S., absent statutory or contractual restriction (法令または契約による制約がない場合は), an employee or employer can terminate the employment relationship at any time, for any or no reason, with or without notice (雇用主は被雇用者をいつでも、どのような理由でも、予告の有無を問わず、解雇することができる). Therefore, employers have the power to control its workplace and workforce by terminating employment relationships at will. In turn, employees retain the freedom to resign if better employment opportunities came by or if working conditions became intolerable.
This concept was introduced by H.G. Wood’s treatise on the master-servant relationship articulated in 1877. Woods wrote that “With us the rule is inflexible that a general or indefinite hiring is prima facie a hiring at will (一般的または期間の定めのない採用は自由雇用と推定されることは当然であり), and if the servant seeks to make it out a yearly hiring, the burden is upon him to establish it by proof (もし被雇用者がそれを年間契約と解したい場合、それが年間契約であることを彼自身が立証する必要がある). A hiring at so much a day, week, month, or year, no time being specified, is an indefinite hiring, and no presumption attaches that it was for a day even, but only at the rate fixed for whatever time the party may serve (日間、週間、月間、年間、または期間の定めがない採用も、無期限の契約であり、その契約が１日であることすら推定することはできず、ただ、決められたレートによって必要な期間だけと採用したもと解される).” (H. WOOD, MASTER AND SERVANT § 134, 3d ed. 1886) Despite being challenged and negated at times, this rule has since been the primary basis for what constitutes the at-will employment of today. Various reasons have been suggested as to why U.S. courts supported this concept but most convincing is that the at-will doctrine fit the times (時代に適合した). Late 1800’s was a time of industrial revolution and the at-will doctrine reflected the ideology of laissez faire and freedom of contract.
Japan, on the other hand, denies employers’ right to terminate employment relationship at will. Labor Standards Law (労働基準法) Article 18-2 states that “a dismissal, where it is objectively unreasonable and is not considered socially appropriate, shall be deemed as an abuse of power by the employer and shall be held void.” As a result, employers are restricted their power to control their workplace and workforce through termination of employment relationships. In turn, employees are well protected by law. “You’re fired!” is often followed by “not!” as imposed by laws and court rulings.
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.