Over the past few years or so, the union has filed several Shakai Hoken claims on behalf of members at ULI-GLI, Little Garden, IES and others. We lost some cases in round one, but then won them on appeal. The others we won straightaway and preserved the victory in appeal. At each stage, we submit oral and written arguments to the local Shakai Hoken office of the Social Insurance Agency (SIA), now known as the Japan Pension Service (日本年金機構).
Some SIA agents have been reluctant to order management to enroll our members even in clear-cut cases, so it’s crucial we continue to apply pressure, including multiple long visits to the local offices or the prefectural offices, clear arguments based on the law and the 1980 and 2005 directives.
Repeated visits to the Shinjuku office of the Japan Pension Service by Zenkoku Ippan Tokyo General Union member forced Linguage (Linguaphone) to back enroll even semi-fulltime teachers in Shakai Hoken in 2010.
The Japan Pension Service in 2011 forced Saiei School to again back enroll a member in Shakai Hoken following demands by the union.
At Simul Academy International, our members won the back enrollment of a full-time teacher by documenting all his unrecognized work hours in order to surpass even the phony enrollment criteria.
Berlitz Japan management has pushed out many teachers from Shakai Hoken based on phony enrollment criteria. This has caused a sense of crisis among many teachers.
In 2014, we successfully back-enrolled a member at Apple Japan (the maker of Macintosh computers and iPhones) by filing a claim at the pension office.
What Management Doesn’t Want You To Know
One thing we want all our members to understand is that Health Insurance Law (Article 3) and Employee Pension Insurance Law dictate enrollment in Shakai Hoken of all employees at “applicable workplaces” regardless of work hours. There are only 8 exceptions, stipulated in Article 3 of Health Insurance Law:
2) those employed less than two months
3) those employed at workplaces without fixed addresses
4) seasonal workers
5) employees of enterprises that will be in existence less than six months
6) those employed by the National Health Insurance Union.
7) those over 75 years old
8) those authorized by the SIA director or by a health insurance union or cooperative.
All the talk about part-timers qualifying if they work 3/4 or more the hours of a full-timer is a misrepresentation of the 1980 and 2005 SIA directives. These internal directives addressed to local SIA offices are operational guidelines for enforcement of the laws NOT enrollment criteria. Imagine a stretch of highway with an 80 km/h speed limit and a police officer who sets the radar to 90 km/h. This means the officer will pull over anyone who exceeds 90 km/h but not those who drive between 80 km/h and 90 km/h. It does not mean that it is legal to drive 85 km/h. Similarly the SIA directives provide guidelines for local agents to order employers to enroll their employees. They do not say it is legal not to enroll employees below the 3/4 threshhold. Finally, the directives have no legal force and are not referred to in the law.
Many employers such as Nova and Berlitz use the internal SIA enforcement guidelines as if they were enrollment criteria. Management must pay half the premium so naturally their purpose is to save labor costs regardless of the impact on its teachers. Unfortunately, the SIA has turned a blind eye and in some cases openly collaborated with management in their illegal non-enrollment of employees.
Let’s be clear and unafraid to say the truth – all companies of five or more people, unless they meet one of the 8 exceptions listed in Article 3 of Health Insurance law, are violating the law by not enrolling all of their employees.