Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Orientation Process at a Japanese University

Now being gainfully employed means that I am busier in different ways than before. Japanese university employment is different than an American university employment in many respects. The process and paperwork are more complicated. It's not about language it's about culture. First things first. You will experience as 辞令交付式 where you are read and handed a letter that means you're an employee. Afterwords, there's an explanatory meeting. Most was relatively uninteresting, but it turns out they renewed a number of systems just in time for the new school year. Also one of the three 総務 people had obviously just started the job the same day but had to sit in the meeting. Moreover, the biggest set of questions related to using 研究費 for trips and what to do if part of the trip is personal and part business. Also, there's a weird rule: flextime but you're supposed to show up at least once on campus.

Mostly what you get from the meetings is forms. Mounds of forms.

I had to fill out all of the following in the first days of employment:

Documents you do see at American Universities
(1) Tax form regarding deductions (normal enough)
(2) (緊急連絡先 ) Emergency contact form  (odd detail: not my wife's info -- my own info)
(3) 振込申請書 for payroll (to receive direct deposits)

Maybe, (4) 通学費 - deduction for commuting. Less than 2km = none. Between 2km and 4km with a car is 2000円/month. It goes up if you're further than that. Nothing for a bike. Cost of commuting for buses.

Documents you don't
(1) Enrollment form for national pension plan for employees of public national universities
(2) Enrollment form for semi-governmental accident insurance both long and short term [2 forms] (文部科学省共済組合)
(3) Request for IP address for my computer (which will expire in 8 days when XP support ends).
(4) 振込申請書 for things other than payroll [I don't really know why ... but there were two different ones]

Documents I didn't have but others did [because I am employed as a 特任講師 rather than 準教授 or 常勤講師]
(1) 別居手当 - if you have to live apart from your family you get $.
(2) 扶養手当 - you get money for each dependent. Odd formulas: about 12000円/month for your wife. 6500 for non-wife living with you unless you're unmarried in which case it's about 10500円. 6500/kid or parent living with. but a bonus of 5000/month if they are a teenager.
(3) housing allowance - minimum of 1万 if your apartment is less than 2万7千円. Maxes out at about 2万 something if your apartment is over 5.5万

I'm missing a few, but to state it simply the wages they earn are weirdly configured. I probably earn more without all the weird 手当て and bonuses they get figured in.

Also, you need to write out everything in the forms by hand -- and there's often a furigana row to boot. Needless to say lots of fun. Also, I cannot recommend enough having a frixion pen (which I did not). If your Japanese isn't roughly as good as mine (I missed 1級 by 4 points in December), then it would be nearly impossible to fill out the forms and understand the 内訳(explanation) that you are told about your job things.