Most jobs have fixed lengths, but what if you want to quit before the contract is over? Unexpected work content/workload, clashes with your private life, harassment, problems with coworkers. There are many times that you have to inevitably drop out. Instead of putting yourself in an awkward position with a dragging contract, read on to find out about your rights as a part-time worker, what to do if your employer does not let you quit, and more.
How to Quit Your Job in Japan and What to Know Beforehand
You have a legal right to quit at any point of the contract
For unavoidable, urgent cases like harassment, at any point during the contract, you can quit the job – legally. Even if it is before the agreed contract length, it is perfectly acceptable for you to resign. So, don’t think that you are stuck in an unfair contract because your specified length is not over.
This law is to ensure that workers are not exploited. For example, if the job content is totally different from what you have agreed to in the contract (told to do things which do not match the given description), the contract can be terminated. Hence legally speaking, if you feel that you are being exploited/violated, you can decide to not turn up and this will be considered fine.
For personal reasons, 2 weeks’ notice is the minimum requirement
Notice that the above are extreme cases, where continuing the job would be harmful to the worker. For most students with part-time jobs, the reasons to quit are for milder private reasons, such as busier schedules due to exams, or not liking the workplace atmosphere. These things are less urgent, and so it is advised to be more considerate towards the workplace. By law, part-time workers are required to give 2 weeks’ notice in advance before resigning due to such cases.
However, if you are quitting for personal reasons before the contract is over, you should make an effort to cause as little disturbance as possible. Your boss needs to rearrange for other people to fill in your spot quickly. Therefore, it is manners to give about a month’s notice before you leave.
The exception to this is if your contract included a clause about the minimum weeks required to give notice before quitting, in which case you should adhere to the agreed period. Similarly, you should avoid exploiting this rule by signing up for a long term job if you know that you will quit mid-way. Even though the law will protect you, this is simply to respect the workplace.
(The two-week rule also applies to contracts that do not have a fixed length as well.)
Why do contracts have a set period anyway?
The contract period is not actually to prevent already established workers from quitting but to protect newly hired workers. This ensures that your work is guaranteed for that period, and employers cannot fire them without reason.
The contract lengths can also be a way to keep track of the workers. For example, some places have a policy of reviewing the wage increase each year (for a one year contract). Therefore, you can have a chance of getting a better hourly wage when your contract ends and you start a new one.
Leaving during the training period
Employers, generally do not want to waste effort and money into training someone who will not stay for long. Therefore, it is better to let them know that you want to leave as soon as possible, and you may have better chances of being able to leave quickly. According to experiences online, it is harder to quit after you become “useful” to the company (being able to do things by yourself). So, don’t get yourself stuck in a difficult situation by hesitating during the training period.
How to resign
If you are ready to quit, it’s good form to have a verbal meeting with your boss and then submit a hand-written letter around a week later.
You can find some templates online for the resignation letter format if there is no specific letter your company asks you to submit. You can find some templates and examples like the one below from My Navi Job.
If your employer refuses your resignation…
Sometimes, employers may refuse to acknowledge your resignation by pleading you to stay. For example, they may tell you that they are short on staff and desperately need you, or they may make you feel guilty by telling you how your training money has gone to waste. However, keep in mind that you have no binding responsibilities for their losses, and it is not up to the employers to let you leave or not (as long as you give proper notice).
In these cases, it may be wise to be ambiguous about your reason for leaving. If it is something that you are not satisfied with at the workplace, it is better not to mention it as they can use that in order to keep you. For example, if you say that you are resigning because you did not like the work atmosphere, the employer can convince you to stay by promising you that they will improve the atmosphere (while nothing really doing anything to change it). Therefore, it might be wiser to keep them to yourself until your contract termination is confirmed. Instead, you can say that you became busier and had no choice but to leave. This way, since the blame is on yourself, it will be harder for the employer to make you stay.
In more extreme cases, if the employer threatens to sue you for compensation (despite notifying in advance), be aware that this is not valid at all. You have no responsibility to make up for their losses! If you are harassed regarding the resignation, you should consider getting help from your local Labour Bureau.
Do You Know Your Rights in Quitting Your Job in Japan?
To re-cap, though you have legal rights to quit immediately in extreme cases, most places expect you to notify them at least 2 weeks in advance. Just because you have signed a fixed-term contract, this does not mean that it is impossible to drop out. In cases where you feel exploited or uncomfortable, do not hesitate to contact your employer or others for advice. However, for other personal reasons, you should be respectful and mindful of the fact that you are indeed breaking the initial agreement (though it is completely legal). Remember to follow the correct steps to quit smoothly.