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Lets talk about those fine print details
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jrwhisky



Joined: 07 Jul 2013
Posts: 43

PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2017 6:49 am    Post subject: Lets talk about those fine print details Reply with quote

SO particularly I am thinking of Interac's little fine print at the top of the SLP they write:


Note to Employees:
* Employee shall receive up to 29.5 hours of work assignments per week.
* Blank periods and breaks between periods are considered as freetime and are not counted as work.

I am surprised at how many people who never see this.

There's also a japanese verson of this and its pretty similiar. Mainly I am looking at the underlined text and wondering how far can they legally go with this? How much leeway can I expect from this? of course they always put those empty boxes in the middle of the schedule never first period or last.

I left school today during this period and it was nightmare! the school went nuts the staff at interac went nuts and I was so angry I nearly didn't come back. They cant possibly expect you to be a desk prisoner and at the same time still call that "free time" ? or can they ?

What do you think?

Also add in your own fine print conundrums for discussion if you like.
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Maitoshi



Joined: 04 May 2014
Posts: 711
Location: 何処でも

PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2017 10:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That phrasing in the contract is basically so Interac can have its cake and eat it, too. You aren't entitled to full rights as an employee, but if you act other than directed, you may find that your contract isn't renewed. It's a bit like the 3/5 Compromise in the States (to save anybody looking it up: "The population of slaves would be counted as three-fifths in total when apportioning Representatives, as well as Presidential electors and taxes.") They want all the benefits of you as a full-time employee, but they don't want the liabilities this involves. Instead, they stick this phrasing in the contract to demonstrate that you are indeed a contractual part-time employee, all while expecting you to act and and function as though you were a full-time employee with all the benefits that would entail.

It would be interesting to see what would happen (providing you have an exit plan regarding other employment prospects or a plan to return to your country of origin), if you were to continue to leave the premises during these "non-working" hours. If they ask where you are going, you may even respond: "My other job. Strangely enough, my employers at Interac don't consider me a full-time employee, so I need to work another job to pay the health care tax they are begrudging me."
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taikibansei



Joined: 14 Sep 2004
Posts: 726
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2017 9:32 pm    Post subject: Re: Lets talk about those fine print details Reply with quote

jrwhisky wrote:
SO particularly I am thinking of Interac's little fine print at the top of the SLP they write:

Note to Employees:
* Employee shall receive up to 29.5 hours of work assignments per week.
* Blank periods and breaks between periods are considered as freetime and are not counted as work.

I am surprised at how many people who never see this.


I'd say almost all foreigners living and working in Japan know about this. It's been discussed multiple times in multiple threads on this (and many other) job boards, unions have sued over it multiple times, and The Japan Times has written about it multiple times too:

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/06/15/national/japans-dispatched-alts-struggle-without-safety-net/#.WVwMZ8ZxW70

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2016/01/06/issues/japans-english-teachers-rays-hope-amid-race-bottom/#.WVwF0sZxW70

Note that a union has even beaten Interac in court on this issue, but they still continue to do it--and still somehow find lots and lots of foreigners willing to accept these and other conditions. Here's a video I've shared before:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7G95K0vjB3A

jrwhisky wrote:

What do you think?


I think you shouldn't come to Japan to work at Interac, or Gaba, or Heart (though the latter two are worse than Interac). It's different if you're already in Japan and have to stay here for personal reasons--in that case, yes, any job is better than none (and Interac apparently has some nice managers too). But there's no way I'd advise a friend to move out here for those working conditions and that salary.

My two yen, anyway.
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jrwhisky



Joined: 07 Jul 2013
Posts: 43

PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 2:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree they play dirty and like others I'm hooked in for personal reasons. I emailed the union about it and they said I was indeed entitled to leave work during that free time. It works a lot like an unpaid lunch break back in the states. You're free to leave in that situation too. The havoc was mainly developed because the teachers perceived it as leaving work early and I only told half of them and the vice principal.

Aw yea I've read those articles they focus more on the 29.5 hr Max and health care. I was thinking a bit more about the little hidden breaks you don't know you might be entitled to.

That's the take away.

Another fun thing they do on the SLP Not written in English is they ask the teachers to count lunch hour as one like of the 6 hours maximum per day, they only request that it be calculated this way not a requirement. But, that is to encourage teachers to invite us to eat with the students and they also request the same thing at training when they say "yes eat with the students you're being paid to do it, but, correct me if your contract is different, the contract States: lunch is an unpaid period. This is stated so they can tack on an extra P for Prep in your schedule so you don't take off early or leave for too long and make them look bad. And it also means they lie at training. They know if it's not on paper it's illegal. At least that's what's likely. Sneaky stuff.
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taikibansei



Joined: 14 Sep 2004
Posts: 726
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 4:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, I see what you're saying now. Yeah, the school (and Interac) must have freaked out when you walked out! Laughing And yes, it is your legal right to do so. I shared a link a few months back about Heart also attempting to make teachers treat break/lunch time as (unpaid and uncredited) teaching time. It's illegal, and if it goes to court, you will win.

That said, are you in the union? If not, you need to get into the union like today. Hope I'm wrong...but Interac may try to fire you for this stunt during the summer break (i.e., when there are no classes). I would also strongly recommend gathering proof now of your good teaching and professionalism--e.g., any written commendations received so far, reference letters from current Japanese colleagues, testimonials from current/former students, etc., etc. The reason being that if Interac does try to fire you "for cause," they will cite (usually made-up) "issues" with your teaching and professionalism...and never mention the fact that they're really pissed off just because you exercised your legal right to leave campus that day.

If you have evidence that these "issues" are made up, you can ask the union to take them to court over your termination...and win. I'd get that proof now, though. In my experience, once word gets around that you are getting the axe, your Japanese colleagues/friends may suddenly disappear on you.

Again, just my two yen.
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Maitoshi



Joined: 04 May 2014
Posts: 711
Location: 何処でも

PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 11:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It sounds like Taikibansei's two yen are worth much more than face value! Good stuff! +1
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jrwhisky



Joined: 07 Jul 2013
Posts: 43

PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 11:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I love it Taikibansei! I think you're definitely on to something. i will get right on that. Right now I am representing interac in a kind of way because my school was chosen to be the example for English excellency, next week I'll be performing a lesson in front of every English teacher in the region plus the BoE. They have extra extra reason to want to fire me.
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marley'sghost



Joined: 04 Oct 2010
Posts: 236

PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2017 2:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interac definitely takes it cake and stuffs it's face with it too. The only real service they provide the board of education is to thread gaps in the labor law for them. That and the added insurance of giving the BOE someone to blame if things go wrong.
Now for me, the "desk prisoner" situation is not a big problem. That's the time I plan my private gigs, do my taxes, study, write comments on Dave's, etc etc. I have a small apartment stuffed full with teenage children, so I can't do anything at home anyways.
After time, especially if you have been at the same schools for a long time and have paid your dues, no one at school will freak out if you disappear for an hour to run to the post office, or split early and skip the after school staff meeting. I've been Interac-ing at the same schools for 10 years now. Been through about 4 principals at each. Only one English teacher remains from when I started and we are good buddies. So when I do something, it's just what Mr. Marley has always done. If I were a crap teacher and caused a lot of problems, or a new rookie, it would be different. Then you toe the line, find the boundaries and concentrate on doing your job well. Once you earn your stripes, the schools will give you some slack when you need it.


Last edited by marley'sghost on Thu Jul 06, 2017 2:39 am; edited 2 times in total
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GambateBingBangBOOM



Joined: 04 Nov 2003
Posts: 1987
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2017 2:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is extremely difficult to fire someone in Japan.

Requesting a different ALT from a dispatch company at the end of a contract, however, requires nothing more than a phone call.

And then you haven't been fired, the dispatch company simply doesn't have a placement for you, and your contract has expired. As far as they are concerned, you have fulfilled your part of the bargain, and so have they.
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GambateBingBangBOOM



Joined: 04 Nov 2003
Posts: 1987
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2017 2:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

marley'sghost wrote:

Now for me, the "desk prisoner" situation is not a big problem. That's the time I plan my private gigs, do my taxes, study, write comments on Dave's, etc etc. I have a small apartment stuffed full with teenage children, so I can't do anything at home anyways.
After time, especially if you have been at the same schools for a long time and have paid your dues, no one at school will freak out if you disappear for an hour to run to the post office, or split early and skip the after school staff meeting. I've been Interac-ing at the same schools for 10 years now. Been through about 4 principals at each. Only one English teacher remains from when I started and we are good buddies. So when I do something, it's just what Mr. Marley has always done. If I were a crap teacher and caused a lot of problems, or a new rookie, it would be different. Then you toe the line, find the boundaries and concentrate on doing your job well. Once you earn your stripes, the schools will give you some slack when you need it.


This is the best advice for the OP (or for anyone else working in the k12 sector in Japan, whether dispatch or direct) on this thread.
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jrwhisky



Joined: 07 Jul 2013
Posts: 43

PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2017 11:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

well it couldn't be said soon enough, they're having me come in for a "performance review" at 2 pm. I'll have to dig early and hard!

Marley I agree unfortunately they moved me to a new school and I lost my status and got sorted into a school full of uptight humorless teachers who call interac at every slight discomfort. once i got a report back that i need to say hello more. or once i drew unchi-kun on the paper of a student who didn't want to participate in anyway.(that one might be my bad).

through our interaction in emails the last few days I have them out on a number of relevant but confrontative and to them maybe insulting points. Had I called in and asked to leave I might have avoided this but they have recently blocked every effort. They've been quite difficult. Anyways if manage to fire me it will be a struggle, even though I want to quit. I gotta stay for the summer pay!
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mitsui



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 1426
Location: Kawasaki

PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2017 11:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I thought they don't pay for the summer.

Is Interac the one that had all the teachers in Sapporo unemployed in April?
It happened in 2014, I think.
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taikibansei



Joined: 14 Sep 2004
Posts: 726
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2017 9:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jrwhisky wrote:
well it couldn't be said soon enough, they're having me come in for a "performance review" at 2 pm. I'll have to dig early and hard!


Have you joined the union yet? See if you can join this morning. Also, do you have a recording device that will fit into your pocket? If not, go to an electronics store and buy one this morning--then make sure it works and have it in your pocket and recording when the "performance review" begins. Finally, do not sign anything, even if they try to force you, even if they tell you that you "cannot leave without signing." Tell them that you want time to think things over, then take the forms they want you to sign and walk out.

Certain branches in Interac have a reputation for trying to do very nasty stuff. One of the most infamous examples:

http://www.debito.org/?p=2993&cpage=3

Good luck.
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taikibansei



Joined: 14 Sep 2004
Posts: 726
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2017 10:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

GambateBingBangBOOM wrote:

Quote:
After time, especially if you have been at the same schools for a long time and have paid your dues, no one at school will freak out if you disappear for an hour to run to the post office, or split early and skip the after school staff meeting. I've been Interac-ing at the same schools for 10 years now. Been through about 4 principals at each. Only one English teacher remains from when I started and we are good buddies. So when I do something, it's just what Mr. Marley has always done. If I were a crap teacher and caused a lot of problems, or a new rookie, it would be different. Then you toe the line, find the boundaries and concentrate on doing your job well. Once you earn your stripes, the schools will give you some slack when you need it.


This is the best advice for the OP (or for anyone else working in the k12 sector in Japan, whether dispatch or direct) on this thread.


Why would this be relevant to direct hires? Direct-hire ALTs don't have unpaid and uncredited blocks of "free" time built into their contracts and work schedules so that all employees remain just under 29.5 hours of work per week. Direct-hires are paid for the full day. Their schools/BOEs also make the required insurance and pension payments. Hence, even "free" periods are considered work time for direct hires, so they darn well better have good reasons for being off campus (assuming they leave).

Per their own contracts, things are completely different for dispatch teachers. In order to avoid making insurance and pension payments, the contracts make amply clear that just about every second out of class is not work time. If it is not work time, if it is indeed unpaid and uncredited time...then why should the employee stay?

Of course, as both you and marley'sghost point out, employees at Interac (and Heart) need to stay and pretend to be busy because they may be non-renewed or fired. And yes, as marley'sghost notes, if you're working in one of Interac's better branches, with time you can build up enough good will to leave during the unpaid/uncredited free periods and do other business.

Did you ever think about why Interac and Heart freak out whenever employees leave campus during a break, or eat lunch in the staff room, or make a phone call between classes? (Just to cite examples of "issues" that led to attempts to terminate different employees.) The schools/BOEs are paying Interac/Heart 6-7 million yen for each ALT dispatched to them. It would be cheaper in some ways to hire direct, and ten years ago, MEXT sent out letters to all the BOEs in this country advising them to hire only direct. (I have copies of this letter.) However, most schools/BOEs continue to refuse, as they can't/don't want to deal with foreigners.

In walk dispatchers like Interac and Heart. They promise to "handle" the foreigners at a lower cost than JET. They also promise to ensure that the ALTs provide the same presence and quality of instruction as direct hires. So, the schools/BOEs say, "Sure, sign us up!" And of course, they expect these dispatched ALTs to provide all that they pay for, including being there all day on campus.

Now, the schools/BOEs continue to claim they do not know the specifics of the ALT contracts--e.g., that Interac/Heart take half the salaries, do not make insurance/pension payments, specifically exclude breaks and free periods from the work schedule, etc., etc. Frankly, I think that is B.S. They do know, but they enjoy being able to pretend that they don't know, if you get my drift. Pretty sad stuff, if you ask me.

Anyway, good luck to you all!
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GambateBingBangBOOM



Joined: 04 Nov 2003
Posts: 1987
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2017 11:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

taikibansei wrote:
GambateBingBangBOOM wrote:

Quote:
After time, especially if you have been at the same schools for a long time and have paid your dues, no one at school will freak out if you disappear for an hour to run to the post office, or split early and skip the after school staff meeting. I've been Interac-ing at the same schools for 10 years now. Been through about 4 principals at each. Only one English teacher remains from when I started and we are good buddies. So when I do something, it's just what Mr. Marley has always done. If I were a crap teacher and caused a lot of problems, or a new rookie, it would be different. Then you toe the line, find the boundaries and concentrate on doing your job well. Once you earn your stripes, the schools will give you some slack when you need it.


This is the best advice for the OP (or for anyone else working in the k12 sector in Japan, whether dispatch or direct) on this thread.


Why would this be relevant to direct hires?

Because most of the things you mentioned are the same for direct hires.

Quote:
Direct-hire ALTs don't have unpaid and uncredited blocks of "free" time built into their contracts and work schedules so that all employees remain just under 29.5 hours of work per week. Direct-hires are paid for the full day. Their schools/BOEs also make the required insurance and pension payments. Hence, even "free" periods are considered work time for direct hires, so they darn well better have good reasons for being off campus (assuming they leave).


Schools think that dispatched ALTs need a good reason for doing those things as well. Direct hires have a similar situation. Lunch doesn't count as being paid so that you can be made to stay longer. You still cannot leave at lunch at most schools. That's the same for Japanese people as well. That's the thing. Many of the dispatch ALT gripes are actually gripes about working life in Japan. It's the SAME for Japanese people, they just don't need things to be spelled out for them- they understand the culture. And that's what direct hires do as well (or else they tend to not have their contracts renewed, which is exactly the same thing as a dispatched ALT).

Depending on your salary, it can cost you more to be in the shakai hokken system than the kokumin hokken system, even taking into consideration the amount paid by employers (half of the private insurance payment is greater than all of the national insurance)

Quote:


Per their own contracts, things are completely different for dispatch teachers. In order to avoid making insurance and pension payments, the contracts make amply clear that just about every second out of class is not work time. If it is not work time, if it is indeed unpaid and uncredited time...then why should the employee stay?


Because that may not be what it says in the contract the dispatch company has with the school.

Quote:

Did you ever think about why Interac and Heart freak out whenever employees leave campus during a break, or eat lunch in the staff room, or make a phone call between classes? (Just to cite examples of "issues" that led to attempts to terminate different employees.)


The same thing may happen at a direct hire position.

Quote:
The schools/BOEs are paying Interac/Heart 6-7 million yen for each ALT dispatched to them. It would be cheaper in some ways to hire direct, and ten years ago, MEXT sent out letters to all the BOEs in this country advising them to hire only direct. (I have copies of this letter.) However, most schools/BOEs continue to refuse, as they can't/don't want to deal with foreigners.


Exactly. With dispatch companies, they can make one phone call and have a new foreigner. That's a situation they like. It gives them greater control of the situation in a hierarchal society. That's actually what the dispatch companies offer schools.

Quote:

In walk dispatchers like Interac and Heart. They promise to "handle" the foreigners at a lower cost than JET. They also promise to ensure that the ALTs provide the same presence and quality of instruction as direct hires. So, the schools/BOEs say, "Sure, sign us up!" And of course, they expect these dispatched ALTs to provide all that they pay for, including being there all day on campus.


Yes. That's the situation. You understand it. You signed up for it. So then why are you complaining now?

Quote:

Now, the schools/BOEs continue to claim they do not know the specifics of the ALT contracts--e.g., that Interac/Heart take half the salaries, do not make insurance/pension payments, specifically exclude breaks and free periods from the work schedule, etc., etc. Frankly, I think that is B.S. They do know, but they enjoy being able to pretend that they don't know, if you get my drift. Pretty sad stuff, if you ask me.


Yes. That's true. Have you seen the contract the dispatch company make with the school / BoE? If not, you do not know what was offered, and therefore what the school expects out of you. You only know your side of the story, which is not the whole story, and this is a hierarchal society, and you are at the very bottom of it. But then again, contracts in Japan are seen as 'flexible'. You do (at the very least) what's expected of you. Period. If you don't like the situation, you figure out a way into one of those direct hire positions (get an MA in TESOL / ApLing or a k-12 qualification and experience in your home country, learn Japanese, write and publish articles, do presentations and meet people) or go the university route (get an MA in TESOL / ApLing, learn Japanese, write and publish articles, do presentations and meet people). In other words treat English language teaching as a profession instead of equivalent to working at the mall.


Last edited by GambateBingBangBOOM on Thu Jul 06, 2017 11:56 pm; edited 1 time in total
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