Monday, September 03, 2012

Labor Law for Public School Teachers in Japan

Today I went to a junior high school with 19 sophomore students at my university who were about to start a week long "School Experience Practicum" where two - three university students are matched with a teacher and observe their classes for a week as well as mingle with the children. When we got to the school we had to listen to a lectures by the principal, vice-principal, and head English teacher. The lectures were actually all interesting. The vice-principal talked about the labor law for public school teachers who have the same status as civil servants, and I learned some new things. Here is my translation of the handout he gave us:

I Occupational Duties of Civil Servants (職務上の義務)
Article 31: Employees must take an oath of service (服務の宣誓)
Article 32: It is the duty of employees to follow work-related orders.(職務上の命令に従う義務)
Article 35: Employees have a duty to devote themselves to their work (職務に専念する義務)

II Duty to Protect the Integrity of Civil Servants (身分上の義務)
Article 33: Employees are prohibited from doing anything that violates the trust of the public (i.e. getting arrested for driving under the influence, fighting, etc.) (信用失墜行為の禁止)
Article 34: It is the duty of employees to guard their clients' secrets (a teacher cannot share the problem of a particular student with people outside the school) (秘密を守る義務)
Article 36: There is a limit on political activities (Teachers cannot tell students that they support a particular political party) (政治の制限)
Article 37: Labor disputes are prohibited. (争議行為の禁止)
Article 38: Employees are prohibited from working for private industry (A teacher cannot work at a cram school every night as a second job) (営利企業等の従事制限)

III Working Hours
  • According to article 32 of the Labor Standards Act, workers are not allowed to work more than 40 hours a week or 8 hours a day. 
  • If a worker works more than 7 hours and 45 minutes in a day, they are required to take an hour of rest and this hour will be included in their working time.
  • Teachers do not have official working days on Saturday and Sunday (However, most teachers go to school on these days to supervise club activities. They do not get paid for this work, though.)
  • Teachers will get paid if they work on a holiday.
What was interesting to me was that while rules I and II seem to be followed very strictly, rules concerning the working hours were not adhered to. Most teachers work much more than 40 hours a week. For example, at the school I visited, the official working time is 8:10 to 16:40 but most teachers come to school about an hour early and leave much later than 16:40. This school is the norm, not the exception. From the way the teachers spoke, they seemed to take pride in the amount of time they spent at school and they came across as extremely dedicated to their students. Nevertheless, as a father, I would want to get home every day at an early enough time to play with my kids and would want to have the weekend to spend with my family. I wonder how teachers feel about this.


Alex Case said...

No law about standing up for the national anthem, I see...

Good to see your blog active again - keep up the good work!

JH said...

Thanks Alex!
I think perhaps local governments could perhaps use article 32 to oblige teachers to stand for the national anthem. When I worked at a high school in Hokkaido back in 2002, many teachers and students chose to not stand for the national anthem and there were no repercussions.