Paid Leave (Nenkyu 年休)Edit
Paid leave, or nenkyu, is a precious commodity (like gold) for most JETs, and therefore many questions/problems seem to revolve around it. Read the following points so that you can avoid some common problems.
- Nenkyu will vary Yearly paid leave for local government employees is determined by local regulations, and because we have different contracting organizations, the number of days JETs receive can vary. Most Wakayama JETs receive about 20 days in paid leave
- Use your nenkyu wisely. There have been numerous cases of people running out of paid leave towards the end of the year, and having an emergency where they needed to take a day off. At best your school will let you take Unpaid Leave, at worst, you won't be able to miss work without breaking contract (and losing your free flight home) - extreme, rare but can happen!
- You are required to work right up until your contract ends. Unless you actually fly home on the same day that your contract ends (which is highly unusual) then you may need to obtain a new visa (depending on how long your visa is for) for the following few days, otherwise you will be an illegal alien. Your school will in most cases not give you special leave for this, and you will need to use nenkyu.
- Don't take holidays during the regular school term. This practice isn't allowed in many countries including Japan and will be frowned upon. Before taking any holidays, find out in advance whose permission you must obtain to take leave and discuss the timing of the requested leave with your supervisor to get permission. And remember, the contracting organisation has the final say.
- Don't be late to work. The Japanese have a tendency to not say things directly to someone thereby avoiding confrontation. Even if nobody says anything about it that day, they all notice when you arrive late to work! Since the smallest increment of nenkyu is one hour, that means you might be required to take an hour of leave for being even one minute late. Also, if you are late, it is actually your responsibility to record it in your nenkyu book, and not your supervisor's responsibility to hunt you down and make you do it.
- Nenkyu can be carried over. Many contracting organizations allow you to carry a certain number of nenkyu days over to the next year if you don't use them all. This is a very common practice, and many of your teachers will have twice the normal number of nenkyu days saved up. However, if you are switching contracting organizations, you will not be able to transfer your nenkyu. Also, with most contracting organizations, if you have any odd hours of nenkyu (that aren't part of a full day's worth), you will LOSE those hours if you don't use them before the beginning of your next contract year only let days be carried over. If you have 3 days and 4 hours when your contract finishes, you will get an extra 3 days with your next contract.
Sick Leave (Byoukyu 病休)Edit
Many of your Japanese colleagues will not take sick leave when they are ill. You will probably go to school one day and see a couple of teachers wearing face masks and wondering if you didn't quite understand the town announcement that morning warning of a possible outbreak of monkey influenza. Don't worry too much (however it's best to ask about the monkey virus just in case), it's just the polite way of doing things in Japan. While in some countries people believe that the best thing for a cold is to rest at home with some homeade chicken soup, keep in mind that in Japan many people believe that if you are sick you must go to the hospital. In other words, if you aren't sick enough to go to the hospital, then you are healthy enough to go to work.They will in fact use their regular paid leave, mainly because most people don't use all of their nenkyu anyway, and because if a person uses a lot of sick leave it usually harms their chances at promotion. (As a JET please refrain from this practice, remember your nenkyu is GOLD!)
We do have sick leave in our contracts, and we are entitled to it if we become ill, so please use it if you need to. Remember that some schools will ask you for doctor's notes, and all schools will require a doctors letter should you be away for a prolonged period of time. The doctor's notes/letters are called (shindansho 診断書) and usually cost a small fee. Check with your contracting organization about what they require to grant sick leave. Some contracting organizations will only give out sick leave if you are hospitalized, and some may also require the doctor to write a note saying that you had to rest that day and could not perform your duties. If they require you to get a doctor's note, get the note. If they only require a receipt from the hospital, then get that. One more reason why most Japanese people just use their nenkyu.
In Japan, there is often not a limit to the number of sick days one can take. However, your contract probably has a provision that after a certain number of days, sick leave becomes unpaid leave. Also, you should not think that you have unlimited sick-leave. As a matter of fact, during Evaluations one thing that is often looked at is how much sick leave you used. Of course, if you truly need to stay home because you are ill, then you should not worry about how much leave you take. Just remember that sick leave is often a matter of trust. If you feel that your contracting organization is very strict about sick leave, it might be because your predecessor abused their trust. Don't do the same thing to your successor.
Time in Lieu (Daikyu 代休)Edit
Time in lieu, or daikyu (代休) is given when you work outside of your normal hours. This can include teaching adult english conversation at night for your BOE, attending speech contests, working at your school festival, etc. In many cases you are required to use your compensation time within a week or two of receiving it. Procedures and rules regarding daikyu vary from school to school, so please check with your supervisor about the specific rules for your school.
Special Leave (Tokkyu 特休)Edit
- Bereavement Leave
- Marital Leave
- Natural Disasters
- Pre/Post-natal Leave
- Sick Leave
- Commuter Transportation Failure
- Study Leave*
Special Leave covers all forms of leave that you are allowed to take without using your paid leave. The details will vary from contract to contract, but we have listed some things that are usually included. Each one may or may not be paid leave, and the allowed time is usually very specific. For example, marital leave might be 5 consecutive days of paid leave, whereas post-natal leave might be 6 weeks of unpaid leave.
In addition to the types listed above, your supervisor may give you leave at their discretion for things such as going to the immigration office. However, it is also their right to refuse this leave, and if they refuse you are required to take normal paid leave.
Study Leave (Kenshuu 研修):Edit
As of now, CLAIR (who set the guidelines for contracting organizations like your BOE) has no official policy on Study Leave. This means that it is completely up to your Contracting Organization, and since we all have different contracting organizations, there's a good chance that you'll know some JETs who get study leave while for some of you it doesn't exist.
The best advice we can give you is that it never hurts to ask, but don't get your hopes up.
National Holidays (Shukujitsu 祝日)Edit
All JETs are entitled to these. Please check your JET diaries for the dates.