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Work guidelines: What are the rules on quitting a job?

The employment situation has been improving as the overall unemployment rate has dropped to the lowest level in 20 years. At the same time, the labor market has begun to show signs of a manpower shortage. When the employment situation was severe, labor disputes emerged as the number of people who were fired increased. But when there is a labor shortage, a situation emerges in which people cannot quit their jobs even if they want to do so. So, what rules are there for those who want to or have to quit their jobs?

    Q: One of my friends is saying he wants to leave his work. What shall I tell him?

    A: Working people have the freedom to choose their careers (Article 22 of the Constitution) and the freedom of retiring from work (Article 627 of the Civil Code). These are the basics, but it is good to keep them in mind. When people quit their jobs, the situation differs from person to person depending on how they have been working. In the case of a full-time company employee whose working period is not specified, the person can submit their resignation at any time.

    Q: Is that right? Is it OK to quit even when it is busy, for example, around the turn of the year or when there is a shortage of workers as a result of other people quitting?

    A: Social common sense, such as training the outgoing person's replacement or the situation surrounding the company in question, should be taken into consideration. But as a general rule, one can submit their resignation at any time. If one submits their resignation two weeks ahead of time, the contract will be cancelled two weeks later.

    Q: I've heard that one should submit their resignation one month in advance. Is that true?

    A: That is true when documents such as work regulations and employment contracts stipulate that one should submit their resignation one month in advance and the company and the employee have accepted them. The employee should abide by these rules. But in the case of a long work period being set with requirements to submit a resignation one year or six months in advance, for example, without any special reasons, it is equal to restricting the freedom of retiring from work and therefore it is invalid. At any rate, when workers submit their resignations, they should check work regulations and other relevant documents to see if their working period is specified. If there is no work period set, one can quit the job after submitting their resignation two weeks in advance.

    Q: How about contract employees or part-time workers whose working periods are specified?

    A: If a working period, for example, of three months or six months is provided for, workers have an obligation to work for such a period and it is difficult for them to quit their jobs in the middle.

    Q: Can they not leave their jobs during such a work period? There are people who have long-term contracts such as one year or two years.

    A: It is only a general rule. Therefore, they can cancel their contracts immediately if there is a "compelling reason."

    Q: What are compelling reasons?

    A: They include cases in which the content of work violates relevant laws or ordinances as well as those in which the worker suffers mental or physical damage or the worker needs to care for their parents or children. But if such conditions arise as a result of the worker's fault, there could be a case in which the worker is asked to pay damages. Furthermore, if the content of work is different from what is shown in working conditions, the worker can quit the job even during the contract period.

    Q: What are such cases?

    A: They are cases in which even if the company has said it will pay 1,200 yen per hour, it pays only 1,000 yen or it does not pay for overtime, or the nature of the work is different from what the company has told the worker to do. For example, although the worker was told they would do clerical work, the worker was in fact assigned to manufacturing work, among other cases. The worker can cancel the contract for reasons of power or sexual harassment by their bosses.

    Q: Can those on two- or three-year contracts not quit their jobs without "compelling reasons"?

    A: If the contract period exceeds one year, the worker can leave the job after submitting a resignation when the actual work period exceeds one year. But the rule does not apply to professional technicians or workers at age 60 or older.

    Q: People can receive employment insurance benefits until they find new jobs after quitting, can't they? Their retirement from work will be treated as retirement for personal reasons because they have quit their jobs of their own accord?

    A: Basically, that's the way it is. But if a worker's company is held responsible for an employee's retirement, there is a system in which a worker can be treated as special qualified recipients of unemployment insurance benefits. They are required to wait only for three months before starting to receive the benefits and the number of days they can receive the benefits will be more than those who quit their jobs of their own accord.

    Q: What cases apply to the system of special qualifications for receiving unemployment benefits?

    A: If the actual working conditions differ significantly from the working conditions specified at the time of hiring, or if the worker has suffered sexual or power harassment, or the company has violated the law in connection with the work, among other conditions. When they submit their unemployment certificates to job placement offices in order to receive employment insurance benefits, it is important for them to ask their advisers there in detail whether they are eligible to get special qualifications to receive benefits. If they think they can qualify for that special status, they should insist on that point. (Answers by Satoshi Tokairin, Tokyo City News Department)

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