The paperwork is in…but the Personnel Head is not


This morning, after the usual 25-minute walk to campus from the station, I headed straight for the General Affairs office (Soumu-ka). In my hands, a plastic sleeve folder containing the four pieces of paper so far required for the Child Raising Leave Application (Ikujikyugyou-moushikomisho).

The problem: the Chief of the Personnel Department was on a business trip. So, in his place, the Vice-Head took the papers and politely offered to confirm that all the required forms were filled out correctly. I should find out tomorrow whether all is in order or not. Meaning that somewhere in between three 90-minute classes, I’ll have to head on over to the General Affairs office again. Oh, well, shouganai (“it can’t be helped”).

Or as we say here in Kansai,

Sha-nai, na-” (always reminds me of the ’80s TV show, Sha-na-na, for some reason…).

“You should take child leave. It is your right.”

To their credit, the General Affairs office staff have been extremely helpful and supportive. When I first approached the previous Personnel Dept Chief in late May/early June about the possibility of Paternity Leave, he urged me to take a year off. “I myself had a second child in the spring,” he said (in English…boy, was I spoiled then). “In Japan, office workers do not often take leave of absence, but you should take it. It is your right.”

The new Personnel Chief transferred in from a large public university some time in June. A number of duties awaited the new Chief, and I also had my own duties to attend to. When I was finally able to talk with him in July, he confirmed that, according to the labor laws for public employees, I was entitled to take a leave of absence until my child turned 3 years old. “But first you might want to discuss this with the gakka shuunin (Faculty Department Head),” he suggested. Implying, in a not-so-subtle way, that I was expected to do so.

I put off the “discussion” for the summer, thinking it was a topic best broached after the final exams in September (yes, Spring Term Exams are in September; it’s apparently the old academic calendar that most Japanese schools abandoned over a decade and a half ago, or longer, in favor of a Spring/Fall or trimester system).

In fact, I waited until the English Presentation and Speech Contest was over. In mid-November.

About MThomas

Long ago, I gave up my high school dreams of becoming the next Carl Sagan and instead wound up working (in order) at McDonald's, a '60s-themed restaurant, a video rental store, a used bookstore, a computer seller, Kinko's, a Jewish newspaper company, and an HR firm. I eventually became a teacher of intercultural communication in Kyoto, where I vainly attempt to apply quantum mechanics to language teaching, practice martial arts and Zen Buddhism, and always keep one eye on the sky.
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