Things to check if you get fired in Japan

If you are fired or dismissed by your company in Japan, you must first know about its reasons. If you intend to disagree with it even just for a bit, do not sign any documents your company presents to you and do not agree with any proposal that your company gives you in any way, even orally. (In Japan, an oral agreement (i.g., agreement made verbally) can be a valid agreement.)

You can ask the company to issue your certificate of separation (退職証明書). There, you can check why you got fired.

Types of dismissals

There are 2 types of dismissals:

  • Ordinary dismissal (including “layoff” / “dismissal due to economic conditions”)
  • Disciplinary dismissal

In other words, the company established in Japan cannot sack a permanent, full-time employee in any way other than the 2 types above.

Requirements for Ordinary Dismissal or Layoff

The requirements for “ordinary dismissal” are:

  1. The dismissal grounds should be stated in the work rules.
  2. A dismissal notice should be given at least 30 days in advance, unless dismissal allowance (= average salary per day for at least 30 days)
  3. is offered.

  4. The dismissal should not be forbidden under law.
  5. Such dismissal should not be an abuse of the company’s dismissal authority. This means that a dismissal is invalid which objectively lacks reasonable reasons and which is considered inappropriate under normal social conventions.

The requirements for “layoff” are:

  1. There is a business reason why staff should be cut down.
  2. The company has made literally every effort to avoid layoff.
  3. The selection criteria for staff subject to dismissal should be rational and fair, independent of the subjectivity of the evaluator.
  4. The company has sufficiently discussed with the staff subject to dismissal and the trade union or a representative of the majority of workers, and made every effort to convince them of the layoff.

Requirements for Disciplinary Dismissal

The requirements for “disciplinary dismissal” are:

  1. The disciplinary grounds should be stated in the work rules.
  2. Such dismissal should not be an abuse of the company’s disciplinary authority. If such dismissal is unproportionately severe given the nature of the employee’s conduct in question, the work history of the employee and other circumstances.
  3. Such dismissal should be proceeded according to the work rules. (If the work rules state that an employee shall be given an opportunity to give his/her opinion before the dismissal, the omission of such an opportunity may be constructed as an abuse of the company’s authority.)

If you have any doubts whether your dismissal or layoff meets the above requirements under law, you should consult a lawyer and seek to keep your position or at least to acquire the separation allowance.

Wishing you all the best and stay safe.