Hiring paperwork highlights in Japan

Recently, I had to be re-hired from a Japanese company i have been working with as a part-timer for three years. All this time, my employment was handled stress-free through a dispatch company – for a hefty amount from the employer’s side. Apparently, in Japan there is regulation mandating that one is not allowed to work as dispatch personnel in the same company for more than 3 years. I assume this regulation is done in order to dissuade companies from feeding off dispatched employees instead of providing proper permanent employee positions. It also means that I have to do all the hiring paperwork again; and this time it is serious.

Traditional Japanese companies are notorious for their strict rules and even stricter hiring processes. In my case, I didn’t have to think too much about interview regulations etc, I just wore my (only one available) two piece suit and tried to be polite and cheerful. Usually, job-seekers have it much harder, since every broken rule and every detail that appears off may seriously hamper hiring chances. We are not talking simple “is your shirt clean” here; the suit needs to be perfect in size, length, color, texture, hairstyle should be natural (died back to black) and even jewelry are a big no no. I also skipped the step of nai-nai-tei, the unofficial but kinda official promise of work position that is provided after the preliminary interview are passed. Anyway, I did an interview once, I passed and started working immediately, so I could skip this part this time.

Then there is the pre-contract documents that need to be filled out. I received a pack of papers and counted 7 different forms. I assume that since I am a part-time worker, whose info is already available in the company database, the number of forms to be checked is lower than usual. I received a health report, a pre-working confirmation document, a transportation allowance document, a new employee various matters notification, a hiring agreement, private information handling agreement, a bank info notification, a tax withholding application and the contract. For comparison, as a dispatched personnel I had to fill out only the tax form and sign the contract. In a lot of this documents there was overlapping content, so I had to add the same information at least 2 or 3 times.

While filling out the forms, some things surprised me or made me feel uncomfortable. A lot of the form boxes were made for Japanese names specifically. For example, there were only 8 character boxes available for the employee’s name, which is OK for Japanese people where 5-characters are enough for both name and surname. However, 8 characters are hardly not enough for Greek names in katakana, even worse for Thais. Since transportation costs for the daily commute to the company are paid, the fee calculation process is thorough to the point that a hand-drown map is required additional to noting down means of transport and route lines. In the case of commuting to work by private car, instead of writing “private car” in Japanese, the English phrase my car (マイカー) is used to describe all of car, motorbike and bicycle. In my personal information – not in the health report, together with name, birth date, address, phone and email, I had to include also blood type. In the pre-hiring check apart from the worldwide relatively not uncommon questions regarding health status, loan status, family status, penal record, etc, there was a requirement for provision of 2 people as guarantors. Additionally, there were requirements for undertaking a skill test (standard computer test for most businesses in Japan), as well as a physical and mental health examination. I was asked to accept a limit of overwork hours to 1-3 per day and discuss the possibility of having to change job due to a family member moving for work and disclose whether I support other people with my income. Finally, there was also a question regarding the existence of anti-social people in my family.

After filling everything out, I have to make copies of 4 different cards and identification documents, since the personal information is not unified yet under a single card or number in Japan. The government is trying to do that with the cute pink mynumbercard, but it is still not widely used by the majority of the population. Interestingly, Japanese people do not have an id card or even a resident card like foreign residents have. Instead, they get by with a driving license, a health insurance card or a proof-of-residence document from the townhall.

I have to confess that I haven’t had much experience with hiring procedures. I wonder if the same requirements hold in other countries as well. Tell me more about your experience with hiring paperwork!

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