Friday, March 30, 2012

Teaching in Japan: The Private Sector

Thinking of coming to Japan to teach English? Already here and doing just that?  In either case, it wouldn't hurt to know a little about one of the mechanisms for staffing Japanese elementary, middle, and senior high schools with native English instructors. 

The mechanism is called gyoumuitaku (業務委託), and it is used in Japan not only for providing schools with English instructors but also for such municipal services as garbage collection. 

Only the former concerns us here, and to refer to it let us hereinafter adopt the shorthand 'Interac', one of the largest private employers of expats in Japan. 

Interac offer a decent monthly salary (reduced, though, during the long vacs) and generally keep out of the instructor's way.  All fine and good.

But not so fine and good is the fact that Interac do not enroll their teachers in the government- mandated social insurance schemes.

How do Interac get away with this?  By fudging the numbers.

In Japan there is a tacit understanding that if an employee is on the books as working less than 30 hours/ week, the health and labor ministry will not enforce its own requirement that all workers in Japan be enrolled in the country's welfare scheme. Interac say their teachers work only 29.5.

Now if you are young and healthy, the fact that Interac have not enrolled you in Japan's social insurance scheme may seem of little moment. In fact, your wallet will be that much bulkier come payday.

But if you find yourself in Japan longer than you originally intended, if you end up making the country your adopted home, it will matter greatly in the long run that Interac did not fulfill its legal obligations.

The online site Japan Today is currently running an interview with E. Darrin McNeal, Human Resources Director of Interac.  I've submitted comments regarding gyoumuitaku and the fact that Interac violate the law.  The comments have been removed. 

Here is my latest posting:

Dear Moderator,

I've noticed that my comments regarding the crucial differences between the 'gyoumuitaku' and 'haken' systems for staffing Japanese primary and secondary schools with native English instructors have been deleted.


Your softball interview with E. Darrin McNeal, director of the human resources department of one of Japan's largest private employers of expats, fails to address issues of concern to your readers. My comments (deleted) did just that.

Specifically, I referred in my comments to the fact that Interac fail to enroll their teachers in Japan's pension and health insurance schemes, in contravention of the law.

I also discussed in the removed comments the inefficiency and inconvenience inherent in the 'gyoumuitaku' system, a fact noted by the Ministry of Education and influencing its advice to BOEs that they cease relying on companies such as Interac to staff schools with native English speakers.

Not shilling for Interac, are you?

Mar. 31, 2012 - 01:24PM JST

Update: Not surprisingly, given the journalistic standards at Japan Today, the above post was removed by the comments moderator.  

And, a word about haken: literally dispatch, another mehanism by which teachers are sent to schools, the difference being that the teachers work directly for the education authorities.

Update: I should have included the information that Interac teachers are typically required to be at schools 7.5 hours/ day, far longer than the 29.5 hours/ week the company says its teachers work.   


Anonymous said...

I worked for Interac a long, long time ago--1988-1990. They dealt mostly with companies back then. Now, I understand they primarily staff public schools. One thing has not changed, they are still scumbags. When I worked for them, they would ocassionally fire someone just before their year was up to avoid paying them the pitiful bonus due them.

brian southwick said...

A long time ago indeed- I first came from '96-'98 and have been here continuously since '99. You were here when the JET Programme was in its infancy and the bubble hadn't fully deflated. Since the time of your stint in the country, Interac have greatly increased their presence and profit margin by getting into the ALT gyoumuitaku business. They have done so, naturally, at the cost of quality in education and in working conditions for native instructors. Thanks for the comment.

Anonymous said...

Interac is indeed scum. They have hired an egotistical maniac named Cedric who enjoys trying to humiliate new teachers who disagree with even one minor thing he says. At a recent training he bullied a young woman until she burst out in tears. He could then be heard saying, "Good, that's what I was trying to do." He probably has some kind of self-loathing problem, but he is an out and out bully, yelling at anyone he chooses knowing that if they quit (and three did at a recent training), they have to buy a ticket back in addition to the ticket they bought to come to Japan just a few days before. Give Interac a pass.

brian southwick said...

I have known several Interac teachers over the years and have found them no different from my municipal-hire colleagues. The problem is with the training and the salary/ benefits. Interac clean house, charging school districts 5,250,000 per teacher per annum; teacher pay amounts to approximately half that sum. .