Here
and
Now

kuchikomi

Worsening labor shortage taking toll on sick workers

28 Comments

Businesses these days are hurting for workers. And if you get sick on the job, it might even wind up costing you more than just lost wages. J-Cast News (Feb 1) reported that a 7-11 franchise in the Tokyo suburb of Musashino City demanded a part-time employee who was unable to make it to work due to illness take a pay cut. Because she was not able to introduce a substitute to work his hours, the store reduced her accrued wages based on the hours work she'd missed.

The fine was calculated thus: 935 yen per hour x 10 hours of missed work equals 9,350 yen.

In the past, such practices -- obtaining a substitute when one is unable to work -- were unheard of, and this piece of news once again casts a harsh light on the tight market for workers at convenience stores.

According to the office of public information at the parent company, 7 and I Holdings, the worker who had been penalized at the shop in Musashino had been a 16-year-old high school girl. In late January, she came down with a cold and missed two work shifts, totaling 10 hours. On payday, which fell on Jan 26, she noticed that the missed hours had been deducted from payment for the 25 hours that she had put in.

According to the headquarter's PR office, this particular shop operates on its own "in-house rule" that levies a penalty on workers who cannot find a substitute to cover for their absence. The news came to light when the girl's outraged family tweeted their anger on Jan. 26, also posting a photo of the actual payment of wages slip indicating the 9,350 yen deduction.

Article 91 of Japan's Labor Standards Act states, "In the event that the rules of employment provide for a decrease in wages as a sanction against a worker, the amount of decrease for a single occasion shall not exceed 50% of the daily average wage, and the total amount of decrease shall not exceed 10% of the total wages for a single pay period."

Based on this, the parent company determined that its franchise's action was in violation of the law, and instructed it to compensate the worker for the difference. A spokesperson for the company apologized for the error, which occurred due to the franchiser's "ignorance of the laws."

"It's the store owner's responsibility to manage the entire operation, but he was out of line to make up his own rules and extract a penalty from the worker," the spokesperson added.

There are currently more than 50,000 convenience stores in Japan, and many, hard strapped to obtain enough workers, are constantly seeking new applicants. Many workers can easily be hired despite a lack of experience, but their unfamiliarity with work rules makes them easy to exploit.

The chairman of the Metropolitan Youth Union, a Tokyo-based labor union, told J-Cast News, "Nearly all the convenience stores hire workers at rates at or near the minimum wage. As these aren't well paying jobs, naturally it's hard to attract more workers.

"Also, the staff are required to move around, putting out merchandise on the shelves, operating the cash register, registering parcels for delivery and so on."

In other words, working at a kombini demands various skills, including people skills. So if you're good enough to do these things competently, then you're smart to seek work that pays better

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


28 Comments
Login to comment

According to the office of public information at the parent company, 7 and I Holdings, the worker who had been penalized at the shop in Musashino had been a 16-year-old high school girl. In late January, she came down with a cold and missed two work shifts, totaling 10 hours. On payday, which fell on Jan 26, she noticed that the missed hours had been deducted from payment for the 25 hours that she had put in.

I think it would be appropriate for the writers of these articles to do some research prior to publishing or posting something here. The original story said the girl had the flu and took 5 days off.

Also the laws regarding sanctions against an employee, were if I recall correctly, were written to cover those people who were in full-time salaried positions, NOT hourly waged positions.

She didnt work, fine don''t pay her, she and everyone else who holds an hourly waged position already knows this, don't work dont get paid. But fining her or sanctioning her or anyone else in her position is asinine.

Oh and if "conbini" are worried about getting people to work for them...simple answer, make the wages higher and people will come. It is that simple.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

No, the original story said she took two days off.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Great article. Thanks for sharing.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The franchise holders barely make a living in Japan, so they're pretty frugal. This story is not all that unusual.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

Besides the shabby treatment, these stores are coercing very sick people to work and possibly infect other workers and customers.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

i still cannot believe that you can fine an employee for not showing up. try that crap in west philly there would be a riot...

12 ( +13 / -1 )

Let me get this straight. Konbinis levy heavy fines against low-paid workers for calling in sick - and yet they wonder why they have trouble finding workers??

19 ( +19 / -0 )

No pity for the shops or companies if they are going to treat people like crap. I wonder if this is why I'm seeing an influx of foreign workers at some shops -- not because of diversification but more likely because they're on intern/work trafficking programs. If they want to get people to work there, and enjoy doing so, it takes only a bit of decency and respect to keep them there and working hard. The slave driver routine is always a failure in the end.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Having spent most of my life in 2 countries which have a very poor sick leave culture (an entitlement culture of 'chucking a sickie" for one and long work absenteeism for the other) I always feel embarrassed/angry when I read such stories, or worse hear J ppl themselves tell me about their experiences.

Again, many J employers are on another planet and don't even see that unfairly penalising staff who take the odd sick day and not attracting enough workers go hand in hand. Who would accept to not only get shafted but also humiliated on a daily basis?!

Again, different planet, different era. Shame on 7/11.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

As stated earlier, just arrest the direct supervisor who scheduled the overtime or refused the sick leave.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Japanese love unpaid overtime and running red lights...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Because she was not able to introduce a substitute to work his? hours, the store reduced her accrued wages based on the hours work she’d missed.

That aside, slave labor needs to be stamped out. Workers HAVE RIGHTS.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Because she was not able to introduce a substitute to work his? hours, the store reduced her accrued wages based on the hours work she’d missed.

It appears that they not only didn't pay her for the hours she didn't work (which seems justifiable enough), but they also fined her the number of hours she didn't work:

On payday, which fell on Jan 26, she noticed that the missed hours had been deducted from payment for the 25 hours that she had put in.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The franchise holders barely make a living in Japan, so they're pretty frugal. This story is not all that unusual.

A lot of thumbs down, but this is the actual truth. The profit margin for chain convenience stores is often only 2% to 3%, and it takes an incredible amount of organization and efficiency just to hit this small amount. Franchise owners often work in the stores along with the staff because they cannot afford to hire more.

The article fails to mention that besides there being a labor shortage, there is also a steady downward slide in business as the population decreases. Not only are there fewer workers for convenience stores, but ever fewer customers buying things from them, and this is why wages remain low, and margins remain thin. These are more likely to decrease than increase in there current economic environment.

It is not the fault of the convenience stores or the workers, but Japan's demographics. And Japan's demographic problem is a political issue, not a business issue.

It appears that they not only didn't pay her for the hours she didn't work (which seems justifiable enough), but they also fined her the number of hours she didn't work:

This is stupid, and Japan needs to clamp down on such practices. If someone calls in sick, someone else either has to work overtime (at time-and-a-half), or another worker has to be called in (usually at the same time-and-half rate), which is why fines are legal to 50%. This is still stupidly bizarre, and is not practiced in other developed countries.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

kombini demands various skills, including people skills

Not related to the gist of the article, which I find the manager to be deplorable, but the quoted sentence made me laugh. Stocking shelves is a skill? Registering parcels (scanning it) is a difficult skill to acquire? And people skills? Repeating the same things over and over in a robotic monotone is hardly a people skill.

Every place I've worked, when I announce that I am quitting, has asked me to find my replacement. When a Japanese employee does the same thing, they are not required to find their replacement as far as I know. This finding your replacement when you're sick is sick itself.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Remember this story when you consider your next 'kombini' oden purchase... (and the proximity of the oden to the forced-to-work, sick staff).

I'm proud of the my home country in as much as the labor rights I was protected by when I worked there. It kept me far healthier, happier and wealthier. Since I came to Japan, I have been gobsmacked by the 3rd world workplace cultures that are the norm here.

I was given an ultimatum once, for a decent job that I worked very hard and professionally at (here in Japan) when I was accused of 'just wanting to go for a holiday' when I informed the company that my (very close) brother had just had a massive stroke, and I'm going to see him as the doctors have given him a few days to live. I COULD NOT believe how callus the company's reaction to it was. Needless to say, I told them were to stick their job.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It appears that they not only didn't pay her for the hours she didn't work (which seems justifiable enough), but they also fined her the number of hours she didn't work:

Thank you Stranger, I think everyone was able to get that part on their first read through.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Thank you Stranger, I think everyone was able to get that part on their first read through.

Did you not read the text I quoted?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Not related to the gist of the article, which I find the manager to be deplorable, but the quoted sentence made me laugh. Stocking shelves is a skill? Registering parcels (scanning it) is a difficult skill to acquire? And people skills? Repeating the same things over and over in a robotic monotone is hardly a people skill.

Every place I've worked, when I announce that I am quitting, has asked me to find my replacement. When a Japanese employee does the same thing, they are not required to find their replacement as far as I know. This finding your replacement when you're sick is sick itself.

Those are skills which I have found many combini staff lack detail for stocking shelves is placing stock correctly so it shows itself well, checking for faults and ensuring it has a price label placed in correct location- many stock item don't have a price.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Konbinis levy heavy fines against low-paid workers for calling in sick - and yet they wonder why they have trouble finding workers??

I don't understand this either, commenteer. It defines "self-defeating."

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Did you not read the text I quoted?

Your point? That everyone else was not able to come to the same conclusion the first time they read the same text that you did?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Your point?

My point is that contrary to your statement that 'everyone was able to get that part on their first read through', someone wasn't, as shown by the text I quoted.

It wasn't clear in the original story either, and it wasn't until this story that I was able to tell whether they just didn't pay her for the hours she didn't work, or whether they fined her this amount as well as not paying her for those hours.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

My point is that contrary to your statement that 'everyone was able to get that part on their first read through', someone wasn't, as shown by the text I quoted.

OK fine you were the only person to not get it...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

OK fine you were the only person to not get it...

You realize your comeback makes no sense whatsoever, right?

Might as well throw a 'I know you are, but what am I?' in there.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

You realize your comeback makes no sense whatsoever, right? Might as well throw a 'I know you are, but what am I?' in there.

Lol, is it really so difficult for you to just admit that your comment on this article was basically stating the obvious that everyone else was able to get on their own when they read the article?

Because she was not able to introduce a substitute to work his? hours, the store reduced her accrued wages based on the hours work she’d missed.......On payday, which fell on Jan 26, she noticed that the missed hours had been deducted from payment for the 25 hours that she had put in.

Your astute observation on the above quote is the following:

It appears that they not only didn't pay her for the hours she didn't work (which seems justifiable enough), but they also fined her the number of hours she didn't work

No! Really? What other conclusions could have been drawn from the text you quoted?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This one:

the store reduced her accrued wages based on the hours work she’d missed.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This one: the store reduced her accrued wages based on the hours work she’d missed.

How can that be the "other conclusion" when that is directly from the article itself?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Wow......this is kind of strange. In many places if one works said amount of hours then they can expect to paid at the rate they hired on for said hours worked. To work and not be paid by your employer...how is that even legal? To find your own replacement....does that not fall under employer duties and not employee. I realize different country different labor laws....but this is beyond me. In some places this would make a lawsuit. When I read articles like this I am reminded just how thankful I should be for my job.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites