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Brokerage worker loses paternity leave appeal in Japan

43 Comments
By YURI KAGEYAMA

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43 Comments
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another reason not to work in Japan

31 ( +38 / -7 )

"(The court) also criticized Wood for ...telling his story to the media"

That's why he lost. He made Japanese people lose face. No Japanese court would ever find in your favour if you embarrass Japanese people, regardless of how right you are.

53 ( +60 / -7 )

You can't ask for your job back, but make the company look bad in public. Don't know which country this would work in... Apart from that not enough information to know who is right... Leaving in 2015, back in 2016... ?

-14 ( +8 / -22 )

What more can you expect from the pathetic Japanese Judiciary system!

34 ( +41 / -7 )

How dare he put his family before work!

36 ( +41 / -5 )

It is clear that the Japanese don’t like the adversarial nature of common law legal proceedings. Wood should have done the decent Japanese thing and stabbed his former employers in the back.

31 ( +34 / -3 )

criticized Wood for asserting harassment, including telling his story to the media, instead of trying to work out the problem with the company.

Really? Clearly this court doesn't understand that the reason he's in court in the first place is because he couldn't work it out with the company. Companys in Japan will always come from an overwhelming position of power as the laws do nothing for workers. What makes this situation so frustrating is that it is not an uncommon situation. Merely a situation where someone tried to do something which is the rarity in the situation.

29 ( +31 / -2 )

But actual practice frequently doesn't live up to the law.

sums up the Japanese "Justice" system .

Hunter James

What more can you expect from the pathetic Japanese Judiciary system!

Let me quote a verse from Edwin Starr's "War". (song at the end of the movie Rush Hour)

What is it good for? Absolutely Nothing!

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Another reason why I choose to live outside of Japan for the majority of the year. We are such a backwards country when it comes to so many aspects of life. Our justice system is years behind that of other places. I honestly believe that the reason for this is due to the high percentage of ojisan in 99.9% of powerful positions. Men that sleep in parliament, harass women at work and on trains, that have the power to punish this man for taking paternity leave.

This poor man trying to care for his family..

Once again, I'm ashamed.

26 ( +30 / -4 )

From my experience with the Department of Labour, the company is right even when they acknowledge the company broke several laws. But the Department refuse to actually do anything other then protect the company. Individual rights just don't count even in court. Best to avoid the Courts, police, government departments just send a totally black fax from various places to them. They will be vexed, a sudden loss of many black ink cartridges does really become regrettable.

14 ( +16 / -2 )

Also, I'd be interested to hear from fellow posters that have come to Japan for work think about working there?

What are the benefits?

14 ( +17 / -3 )

""Wood had applied for paternity leave, but the company refused to give it.""

The Q is why was he refused the leave? this is a typical case of "LACK OF COMMUNICATION" I believe if Mr wood and his employer communicated things would have been much better.

Mr Wood understandably wanted to be near his son in times of crises, but he did not wait for approval by the look of it.

-9 ( +7 / -16 )

This is more a problem of mismanagement than harassment. What kind of management changes roles without communicating with the affected employee?

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Looking at the picture above, I wonder how long his paternity leave was? By the looks of the kid, nearly two years. Not surprising they didn't want him back after all that time.

-20 ( +6 / -26 )

JeffLeeToday 06:57 am JST

That's why he lost. He made Japanese people lose face. No Japanese court would ever find in your favour if you embarrass Japanese people, regardless of how right you are.

Well, don't be so sure about that. Arudou Debito did win his Otaru onsen case, despite (or because of) splattering it all over the media.

While it superficially looks bad, it is also true you can't tell exactly what happened without being able to see the ruling proper. What facts were submitted. What was accepted. Was any reasoning given? Etc.

-3 ( +8 / -11 )

Having experienced the twilight zone known as the rydokijun kantokusho, and their useless "warnings" to an offending employer who refused to pay his employees, then to labor court where it was more of the same blame the trouble making gaijin gas lighting tactics , then finally an award due to overwhelming evidence, I would say avoid Japan Inc at all cost...or else risk suffering PTSD from such harrowing experiences. To listen to "love all things Nippon" feel gooders is one thing, to actually experience is another.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

I want to be clear. The company's actions were despicable, but predictable.

And the court taking issue with him going public speaks volumes of the mindset of the Japanese judiciary and, indeed, the Japanese establishment.

With that said, for those use who have followed this saga and Wood's ordeal, this story omits one of the key facts around his case. I reference the below.

Wood had applied for paternity leave, but the company refused to give it. Wood’s son was born prematurely and so he rushed to see him without receiving permission. When he returned to work in 2016, chunks of his former assignments were gone and he was stripped of responsibilities, according to court testimony.

For all those who remember, the reason he was denied paternity leave was that he was not married at the time and his partner who was having the baby lived overseas. So, when he applied for paternity leave, the company denied it because the work rules did not cover paternity leave for unmarried couples.

To further complicate matters, his partner was living overseas and had the baby overseas. Which is why Wood took leave without getting permission.

None of that excuses what the company did and the fact that they did not have paternity leave for unmarried couples. However, it is important for readers to understand the full set of facts.

22 ( +22 / -0 )

Also, I'd be interested to hear from fellow posters that have come to Japan for work think about working there?

What are the benefits?

You generally get paid on time, but that's about it. Otherwise you have to do overtime for free and accept whatever your boss says, even if it's illegal. I've worked at so many places where the person in charge treats everyone below them like servants even to the point of arranging their schedule at will and requiring them to come in at the weekend without asking - before people say "Yeah well that happens everywhere!", it doesn't and it's illegal but too many employers don't even know the rules to start with.

You need to join a union to get anywhere and I think it would have helped in this case. A union will threaten the kind of action taken and companies usually comply when that happens. I think if he had even threatened it himself it might have helped, but Japanese managers take unions more seriously than individual employees because they're so used to thinking of them as their slaves...

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Looks like I’ll soon be changing who I bank with (yes, I’m aware it’s a joint venture and their investment arm)

7 ( +7 / -0 )

you can blame dude all you want and look for holes in his story, but the final answer is that its a system based on feelings and that system of unspokens must be maintained at all cost. As a gaijin, I highly recommend not engaging this system to begin with as by default you dont understand it and are a trouble maker. What makes it even more difficult is that you will go at it alone; nobody standing next to you to fight it, even a Japanese will succumb to its pressure.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

You need to join a union to get anywhere and I think it would have helped in this case. A union will threaten the kind of action taken and companies usually comply when that happens

I never explored that. The unions have bite? I mean that they will actually stand with a gaijin and help? No blaming or gas lighting? Then if thats true, I should of joined one.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Don Quixote comes to mind. In my experience your best bet is to hire a lawyer and negotiate a settlement and move on. Unless it is Nissan however.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Appalling decision but not surprising in Japan.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

He forgot that in Japan, Japan Inc is Vox Dei. When they speak the people are to tremble in obedience.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

He never stood a chance. What a waste of time and money even trying to fight it.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Perfect example of Japanese culture getting in the way of facts and practicalities. I can just imagine as he laid out facts and context to the court the magistrates thinking to themselves, 言い訳!

1 ( +6 / -5 )

@Punctual Plum

Also, I'd be interested to hear from fellow posters that have come to Japan for work think about working there?

I've worked in Japan after being transferred to the Tokyo office of an American company. I did IT consulting work for a number of banks / insurance firms in Japan.

This story of paternity leave brings back memories of how my employer took me off good projects to place me into worthless projects outside my department, simply because I'm a native English speaker. In my experience Japanese managerial style doesn't promote employee growth, and simply pushes talent to where there are gaps. If you stick around long enough and are loyal enough, you may end up getting put on good projects with the best customers. But don't bother taking time-off outside of Golden Week, Obon, or New Years (or when you have a child)

On the positive side, being an expat, I took on a lot of high visibility projects at a young age. I felt like I was important for the company's mission (although underpaid).

On the negative side, we would do an honest assessment of our clients' IT systems, and their leadership usually didn't like our ratings, so they argued with us to give them a higher score. Of course, my Japanese managers allowed us to raise their scores because "okyaku-sama wa kami-sama" or "customer is God".

The sad thing is, we were just there to help them improve. Instead, I feel one bank in particular received our assessment and ignored our recommendations, and pretended like they were already perfect. So what's the point of hiring us?

I also remember going to Europe and America with a Japanese client to visit their subsidiaries, and watching the Tokyo executives fail to understand budgeting cycles and management culture in the Western world. They failed to complete "due diligence" and our team received a lot of angry feedback when telling (not asking) the subsidiaries about unrealistic timelines. I've never felt as much tension in a meeting as I did on this project.

I quit my Japan job within a year. I am paid way more to do the same job back in the USA and not work 10-14 hours a day. It would take a lot to convince me to ever go back to a Japanese firm.

15 ( +16 / -1 )

The sad thing is, we were just there to help them improve. Instead, I feel one bank in particular received our assessment and ignored our recommendations, and pretended like they were already perfect. So what's the point of hiring us?

well dude thats par for course here. Their not going to listen to anything you have to say...lol

They want you to dig in and battle with them. Most will find that to be exhausting, understandably but they

arent going to use any foreigner as the "go to" consultant. Their just going to take what you offer, change it

then be done with you.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

It's frightening how many of you parrot the same uniformed ideas. It's always Japan Bad, foreigners Good.

First, Woods has lived in Japan for over 30 years. So he fully knows what life is like here; Rules are rules. There are no exceptions (unless you're rich or famous). In any job, you just can't up and leave before you get permission. And by the sound of it, that's what he did.

Second of all, he left for quite a long time. Paternity leave, if it had been given, only allows for 1 month of leave. What's the company supposed to do? Pay him to live overseas to do nothing? And then he comes back expecting everything to be the same? Of course all of his work had been given to other people.

-5 ( +7 / -12 )

There appears to be way more as far as complications in this story than is really being addressed.

Its not just paternity leave, but leaving work for half a year, without approval, child and gf in another country, unmarried to the mother, urgent medical issue, claiming harassment and filing for depression soon after coming back, going very publicly to all the foreign media.

Japan INC doesnt do well in complicated situations and never will. I feel for the guy but he didnt have a chance when the situation is top level complicated like this.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

And talking about paternity leave, one of my colleague took 4 month paternity leave on full salary for 2 months and partial on 2 month, had no issue after returning to Japan from abroad and then got transferred to Swiss Branch for work. And he's been in this company for just 2 years. Been working 30 years in japan, he should atleast have understood the work culture of Japan. What an idiot.

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

Foreigner or not there are laws that are on the books Japanese laws!, so to shuffle the blame on a foreigner seems to be dodging the issue. Some companies are 2020, some 1820. Its enforcement of rules rather than country of origin. Dude did the right thing and was punished for it. His company did a bad thing and was absolved. People can claim it's not the Japanese way putting family married or not before the company. But as a human family comes first no matter what. Something his managers simply failed to understand.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

It’s sad that after 30 years in Japan he still doesn’t understand the way of doing things here.

He could have handled it better and had the discussions within the company rather than bringing to the Foreign Press.

I don’t know the whole story, and do feel a bit sorry for him, but I do know that you get nowhere by trying to embarrass a company in public.

Similar to Ghosn... He’s not a hero or a martyr in my book, just a slightly arrogant foreigner trying to beat the system. A true case of ‘I fought the law and the law won’

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

I never explored that. The unions have bite? I mean that they will actually stand with a gaijin and help? No blaming or gas lighting? Then if thats true, I should of joined one.

Yes, unions are a constitutional right. I have had quite a few pay rises and job security from being a member... the university I work at even guarantees that the number of classes for union members will never be reduced if possible! Of course, it's worse for people who aren't members because employers take it out on them, but they can just join?

It's so easy really, I don't know people let themselves get screwed over

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Wood took leave without getting permission.

I would agree that from the information we have, it appears the issue is being absent without permission.

However, isn't Wood entitled to take parental leave by law and the company cannot reject his request?

Maybe the procedures were not done as the company wished, but it would be nice to know what the law is, which is not mentioned in the article or court. The law is really what need to be explained in this article and by the court - but they never seem to do that!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@Osaka_Doug Today 07:18 pm JST

However, isn't Wood entitled to take parental leave by law and the company cannot reject his request?

Again, without the ruling it is hard to be sure, but what seemed to have happened is that the company, unable to fight the law, resorted to maliciously disputing the facts to delay the inevitable:

Glen Wood’s lawsuit states that when he first asked his company for paternity leave in 2015, he was rejected on the grounds that “there was no such precedent.” After the boy was born in October of that year, the firm was forced to accept Wood’s legal right to parental leave, but they then refused to acknowledge that he was the child’s father. After Wood submitted DNA test results to prove the was indeed the father, the company finally allowed him to take paternity leave. However, according to the legal statements in Wood’s case, after he informed the firm that he was going to become a single father, he suffered two years of willful mistreatment. He was then fired.

https://www.patahara.com/our-story

The idea that the designation of something as a right means the exerciser CANNOT be held at fault for using it is not well ingrained in Japanese society.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

 It also criticized Wood for asserting harassment, including telling his story to the media, instead of trying to work out the problem with the company.

Sure. Only Japanese prosecutors are allowed to do that to the accused. You're not allowed to do that in your defense. Nope.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

The problem with articles like this is that it was written to elicit an emotional response from the reader. So much of modern journalism is based on emotion instead of simply reporting the facts. A more balanced telling of this story would be to make the point that although parental leave is the law, it is also the law that the plaintiff was to go through the process as prescribed by law.

It is obvious that Wood lost his case because he left without informing his company and was gone for a longer period of time than prescribed by law. I can sympathize with his parental desire to help his child but he made a choice and is responsible for it. He isn’t a doctor so he could not have made an immediate difference in his sons health prospects. He should accept that he valued his child over his job and move on. It was a hard choice. Delaying his departure to save his job and future ability to provide for his child was a hard choice. He must regret that he didn’t make the right decision. He had a responsibility but so did the company. They have obligations as well.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Wood had applied for paternity leave, but the company refused to give it.

Under what grounds did the Company refuse his request for paternity leave ?

Wood’s son was born prematurely and so he rushed to see him without receiving permission

How long was he absent from work ?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Under what grounds did the Company refuse his request for paternity leave ?

And also why did the court side with the company?

This article leaves more questions than answers.

I think it comes down to a type of attitude that some editors have that its readers can't handle technical facts (or statistics), so try to focus on the human side of the story.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

"it is clear that the Japanese don’t like the adversarial nature of common law legal proceedings."

Japan is NOT a Common Law system!

All your "adversarial proceedings" are NOT applicable in France, Spain, Brazil, Russia. And Japan.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

WolfpackApr. 4 09:01 pm JST

It is obvious that Wood lost his case because he left without informing his company and was gone for a longer period of time than prescribed by law. I can sympathize with his parental desire to help his child but he made a choice and is responsible for it.

You are going to have to use information extrinsic to the article to make this as a conclusion rather than a hypothesis.

What can be said is that even if this is true, it does not forgive his company's cowardice. If we accept the company's position is that he broke rules over the paternity leave (or another matter), then under Japanese law, they do have the right to formally issue a disciplinary penalty, which can include either warnings, pay cuts or even demotions.

What they are not supposed to do is this passive-aggressive crap of reassigning him and claiming to be nice:

During earlier court testimony, Akihiro Kiyomi, Wood’s former boss, and Chiharu Abe, who took over Wood’s job at the company, said they reduced his workload after his child was born because they thought he needed to take it easy as a single father.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

If I remember rightly, it was about a month ago that the Japanese government was trying to encourage staff to TAKE paternity leave, wow, what sort of message is this sending out?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

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