Arriving in Japan fresh off the boat a lot of people aren’t aware of the Japanese social net that exists all around them. Some of it clings to you like a spider’s web, like the Japanese health care system which which for most young workers is too expensive compared to the superior private insurance programs. Other stuff like Japan’s Unemployment Insurance program makes more sense.

Japan’s Unemployment Insurance program, called Hello Work (ハローワーク), is for those workers who are laid off, fired or have quit their jobs. You can claim benefits and they will also help find you another job. Japanese workers are automatically enrolled into the program and as 2012 pay 1.35% (the employer paying 0.85% and the worker paying 0.5 %) of their monthly paycheck into the program.

In principle, this applies to all general workers. However, to qualify for Employment Insurance, part-time workers’ prescribed working hours must not be less than 20 hours per week, and they must expect to be employed for not less than 31 days.

For someone making 250,000Yen a month that is 3375Yen and if the employer pays what they’re supposed to it’s only 1250Yen a month. While by law the employer is supposed to pay their share more and more companies are just putting the whole cost onto the employee.

English teachers are in a whole different ball game. Some of the big legit companies pay into the Hello Work program as per Japanese law. I remember when NOVA crashed and burned some of its employees were able to survive for a while on Unemployment Insurance benefits. However, most English companies just don’t bother as their foreign employees don’t realize they are required pay for it. If you complain to the Hello Work agency that your employer isn’t paying your premiums they will send a strongly worded letter on your behalf and for the company to do the right thing which the company can choose and usually does ignore.

If you are lucky and work for a decent company, in the event of you losing your job you will get monthly checks from Hello Work until until you find a new job, or for six months which ever comes first.

In order to receive these payments, however, you must first register with the nearest Public Employment Security Office. Bring your separation notice (rishoku-hyo), your insurance card, your alien registration card, and a recent photograph with you. The insurance card will have been given to you by your employer when you started work. The separation notice, on the other hand, will have been provided when you were released. —

For other “How to … in Japan” guides, try these:

Big In Japan Japanese Bicycles Health Care In Japan Making friends in Japan hostess in Japan
How to become big in Japan How to cycle in Japan Getting the around the Japanese health care system Making Friends in Japan How not to be a hostess