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Collecting Unemployment Insurance

There are only two things that can save Nova now, neither of which appears likely: students inexplicably return to Nova in droves or an angel investor bails out or buys them. Given the uncertainty surrounding Nova's future, it's time to review how one goes about collecting unemployment insurance in the event that Nova goes bankrupt.

If you currently work for Nova, you have two choices: you can quit now, or you can wait for Nova to go bankrupt.


The good: If you quit now and manage to find another job, you're safe. You're free of Nova.

The bad: If you quit, you won't be able to collect unemployment benefits for 90 days. Do you have enough cash to tide you over for three months?

Waiting for Nova to go bankrupt

The good: You still have a paycheck while waiting for the end, and when Nova does goes under, you can immediately collect unemployment benefits. You have one year from the day after you lose your job to apply for benefits.

The bad: Waiting for the inevitable sucks, and there's a chance you may not be paid you final paycheck. Collecting unpaid wages can take time and you may only be able to recover 70% of what you're owed.

Collecting Unemployment Insurance

Caveat: I have never collected unemployment insurance in Japan. I called my local Hello Work office and spoke to a Mr. Kikuchi who was more than happy to answer my questions. The Hello Work web site also contains a lot of useful information, but it's all in Japanese. Feel free to point out any errors or add to the explanation in the comments.

What is the minimum requirement for receiving unemployment insurance? Teachers work on one-year contracts. Can they receive benefits if they have been working less than six months?

The minimum requirement is to have worked for at least six months. However, if a person has worked less than six months but, within one year, manages to fulfill the requirement by being employed elsewhere (Nova employment plus other employment is more than six months), that person is eligible to collect benefits.

Last month, Nova was late in paying its staff. If salaries are late or are not paid, can I quit and still collect unemployment insurance?

If you lose your job for reasons attributable to your employer, your application can be processed in about week and you can immediately receive unemployment insurance.

It's not uncommon for Nova instructors have a part-time job on the side. If Nova were to go bankrupt, can a person collect unemployment insurance while still doing their part-time job?

Provided that the person works less than four hours a day at their part-time job, they are eligible to receive unemployment insurance. However, if they work more than fours hours a day, they can still receive unemployment insurance but at a reduced rate.

What do I need to bring to Hello Work?

This the minimum you need to take with you. You may find that you may need other documents after consulting with the people at Hello Work.

  1. A koyohoken hihoken shoumeisho (雇用保険非被保険証明書), or unemployment insurance card. You can see an example here.
  2. A koyouhoken hihokensha rishokuhyou (雇用保険被保険者離職票), or unemployment insurance form. You can see an example here.
  3. Photo identification. A driver's license, passport, or alien registration card.
  4. A 3cm by 2.5cm photo (for registering with Hello Work so they can help you find you a job)
  5. Your bank passbook
  6. Your hanko if you have one

Source: Hello Work>

The flow of things

  1. Get your rishokushoumeisho (離職証明書), or proof of unemployment, from Nova. Nova must provide you with one by law. Accept no excuses.
  2. Hello Work sends an unemployment insurance form, koyou hoken hihokensha rishokuhyou-2 (雇用保険被保険者離職票ー2)to Nova. Nova fills in your name, the date your employment ended, and your salary for the past six months. An example of the form can be found here. This form has three copies. One copy is for Nova, the second for Hello Work, and the third for you.
  3. Nova gives you copy 3 of the rishokuhyou.
  4. On this third copy, fill out the section titled rishokuriyuu (離職理由), or reason for unemployment, on the right hand portion of the form, and then submit it to Hello Work. Hello Work will then determine if you're eligible to receive benefits.

Source: Hello Work

How long can I receive benefits if I quit?

It depends on how long you were employed.

More than 6 months but less than 1 year More than 1 year but less than 5 More than 5 years but less than 10 More than 10 but less than 20 More than 20 years
90 days 90 days 90 days 120 days 150 days

How long can I receive benefits if Nova goes bankrupt or I am fired?

If your employer goes bankrupt or you are made redundant, the duration of your benefits is linked to your age and how long you were employed.

More than 6 months but less than 1 year More than 1 year but less than 5 More than 5 years but less than 10 More than 10 but less than 20 More than 20 years
30 years old or younger 90 days 90 days 120 days 180 days --
30-35 years old 90 days 90 days 180 days 210 days 240 days
35-40 years old 90 days 90 days 180 days 240 days 270 days
45-60 years old 90 days 180 days 240 days 270 days 330 days
60-65 years old 90 days 150 days 180 days 210 days 240 days


Further reading

Two other useful references can be found at the Berlitz General Union and the General Union Q & A page on Labour Standards and Law.

The bare bones English language page of Hello Work may be useful, as well as this thread in the forums.

Update 10/18

This bit of information comes from Pabloski in the forums:

6 teachers *including myself* and 2 J-staff went to a pre-arranged meeting at the Labor Standards Council. A representative from the LSC and a representative from Harowak had prepared an information seminar for us. They also provided a translator who spoke english fluently. Obviously not a former nova student.

First of all everyone filled out an official complaint against nova (except me and 1 other, as we had done it the day before.

They then gave a presentation on what happens if we resign, and what happens if nova goes bankrupt.

If you teach for more than 20 hours per week, and work at least 11 days a month, you are considered to be a full time employee.

Basically, to be eligible to collect UI, you can only resign with sufficient reason. If u resign "at your own initiative without sufficient reason you will not be paid for 3 months" The same if you are "dismissed for serious reasons imputable to yourself"
Two late salary payments does NOT automatically qualify as "sufficient reason". Each case has to be examined by the Labor Standards Council. In the case of Nova going bankrupt, however, we can claim UI immediately.

We must provide:

  1. Separation notice (rishokuhuyo)
  2. Inkan
  3. Bank passbook
  4. Alien registration card
  5. 2 photos 30x25mm

According to them these are the ONLY necessary documents.

From the date of application, it takes about 6 weeks to receive your payment. There is a formula for calculating how much you will earn. I earn 280k a month. I will receive approx 170k. Ten toppatsus this month has no significant bearing in how much i receive.

You can work up to 20 hours per week. No cash limit.

Ok. Thats the good news

Bad news for u who continue to work in the hope of recovering lost wages in the event of bankruptcy. Ready for this?

The government does NOT pay lost wages. There is an independent agency called "Japan Labor Health Welfare". They act on behalf of the government to pay a percentage of lost wages in the event of bankruptcy. This is known as the Wage Loss Compensation System. Sounds good? No. Because according to yesterdays presentation, this applies to "small businesses only". In the opinion of the Labor Council Staff, "it is very unlikely that NOVA would be categorized as a small business as it is a nationwide company". When asked what support was given for loss of wages to a nationwide company, they replied "none, sorry"

However, in the case of bankruptcy, the Japanese court would appoint an administrator. They would liquidate all NOVA's assets, and begin to repay creditors in the following priority:

  1. Government taxes
  2. Employment Insurance
  3. Wages.

The bottom of the list are customers, i.e. students. If u are still going to NOVA and do a demo lesson with full vigour, then shame on you.

But in the opinion of the LSC staff, it is unlikely that NOVA barely possesses enough assets to cover 1 and 2. and maybe a fraction of 3. However the process would take at least 6 months and more likely nearer a year. The LSC said quite simply "there is VERY little chance you will ever get lost wages in the case of bankruptcy". If u happen to leave japan, your chances are even slimmer unless you are prepared to come back to japan to collect whatever tiny percentage the liquidator happens to apportion to you.

This is a brief overview of a three hour information seminar (with ten minute drink break, but they didn't supply drinks )
The LSC, Harowak, and the translator were EXTREMELY helpful and friendly. They answered our questions with great patience and detail. If possible you should rty to arrange something like that in your local area. The staff said that they would willingly arrange a further seminar for any other teachers in our area, but asked that we give at least one days notice. wonderful. restored my faith in local govt (slightly).

Some info can be found here. I think someone posted it before...
However this is slightly out of date, and they pointed out a few things that had changed.


I've been told by Nova that if I don't have the unemployment insurance card, that I can use just the unemployment number and my latest pay stub. Is this true?

Thanks you so much.!!! That is the information lots of us have been chasing. Unlike the union you show a genuine concern for the teachers. Many many thanks

It's worth noting that unpaid wages are not handled by Hello Work. As teachers in the NCB and other recent eikaiwa bankruptcies learned, these companies love to go under on payday. Why? Because it's cash they can pay their creditors with and leave the burden of paying employees to the state. At any rate, should NOVA go bankrupt without paying you wages owed, you will get about 80% of them from the government, though it will be a 10-12 week wait, if not longer.

The entire company has to first be liquidated and sold, with the creditors getting paid out according to a roster. Last on that list are the employees of the company. Once all creditors are paid (or defaulted on), the government will handle salary defaults to employees. The process is relatively simple, but takes time.

However, and this is a big thing to keep in mind: If your employer fails to pay you, you quit and they go bankrupt, you forfeit the ability to have the government reimburse you for unpaid wages. In other words, if you haven't been paid and want to see that money, you have to hang on until the end. You won't see that money for a while, but if you can survive for a bit on savings and have a new job lined up quickly, this could bring in a nice bundle of cash in a few months time.

How much longer can Nova go on? Honestly, I don't know. Your guess is as good as mine. I'll be surprised if they last long enough to see January 2008.

Based on what I've blogged here in the past months, financially, Nova is a basket case. Their name has been dragged through the mud, they are out of money, they are getting sued left, right, and center, they are not advertising, pay has been late, there's a huge demand for refunds. Something has to give.

As for the unemployment insurance card, AFAIK, as long as you have the number, you're good to go.

Edit: This post got double posted and I somehow deleted the message I was replying to that asked how long did I think Nova would last. Sorry about that.

The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them. -Albert Einstein


okay, so i was aware that nova was not in the best of financial positions, but since i've unconvered a few rumours, i've been frantically researching for other nova news on the internet.
i currently live in toronto and am planning to come to japan in less than a week to work for nova.

what should i do?!

I work at Nova. The honest truth is that I am 50-50 about getting paid this month (or ever again). The president has not uttered a word about what is happening so there is no official line. Unfortunately, these sites are your best source of info. Not hard to see how the company has ended up in this mess.

Should you come to Japan? It is a BIG gamble if you don't have enough money to support yourself for at least a few months or a decent exit plan (return ticket). Your visa will allow you to work elsewhere if Nova goes under. You will just need to support yourself until you find new work.

All the best with it.

For the reasons that Ken states, the 15th of the month (payday) has Nova employees worrying whether they'll get their pay. Nova is no longer a viable company. If you decide to come to Japan, bring as much cash as you can with you. You might need it if you suddenly find yourself without a job.

Get your work visa stamped in your passport, and then get out of Nova as fast as you can. Your other option is not to join Nova and find employment some place else.

The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them. -Albert Einstein


either there's a typo there or people under thirty who have worked more than ten years are really getting screwed.


The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them. -Albert Einstein


Option 3 get fired now for a non serious offence, and collect unemployment immediately. There used to be a site with all the info on how to do this, but I haven't looked for it for 3 years, sorry can't paste link

Do you really need a website to tell you how to get fired?

I recently got a job offer from Nova (literally a couple of days ago), but reading all this made me not want to take the job. Thanks for all the information everyone.

Do you know if all Nova teachers are experiencing getting paid late and do you think Nova will go bankrupt soon??? I recently got a job offer from Nova a few days ago and I really don't wanna go through all the hassle of this crap if Nova is going down the drains.

Actually, teachers haven't ever been paid late as far as I know (and I've worked there for years). Some have been paid around mid-day on pay day recently though (later than the usual mid-night deposit but still not late). The admin staff and mangagement have had their pay delayed recently.

No one knows when or if Nova will go bust. The best anyone can really say is that it doesn't look good. This months pay looks OK. It's anyone's guess after that.

If you are worried about moving into a risky position, Nova probably isn't a good move right now.

im working there now part-time & its funny to see novas final days unfold for me. (i dont care if nova goes bankrupt because i make enough money other ways.) they tried to hire two new teachers recently but both left in less then a month because the place is obviously so unstable. sales staff seem severely depressed and now always look completely exhausted. no one listens to managers lately. the instructors all know that with the severe understaffing they wont be fired & so feel free to do whatever. many students dont even bother coming anymore so its often empty. just waiting for it to close down, im betting on december.

but it is not anymore

I have a feeling that today there will be a few sick teachers

not been able to pay the foreign (already demoralised) teachers is not a good sign...

all kinds of crazy rumours going round...
but I think the one with any certainty is that this boat has struck the iceberg and quickly sinking

so I was to depart on 9/18, but I just got a call saying that they advice me not to go and if I do bring extra money. Their explanation was that at least 50% of teachers were not paid and that they are unable to get in touch with the Japanese office to get more details.

"Last month, Nova was late in paying its staff. If salaries are late or are not paid, can I quit and still collect unemployment insurance?

If you lose your job for reasons attributable to your employer, your application can be processed in about week and can immediately receive unemployment insurance."

Does this mean that since my salary is late in being paid I can quite and Hello Work will give me benefits immediately?

As everyone is now fully aware...NOVA is slowly decaying corpse! The reason for this is the loser President Sahashi. Apparently he has gone missing lately...calls to his office have gone unanswered! He expects teachers and staff to put on a happy face for students, while at the same time doing nothing himself! He is one for the most two face pricks ever to live! I hope he commits seppuku!!

The answer isn't very clear, is it? A better answer would be, "No, you should report this to the Labour Standards Bureau. I don't know if they will be able to actually get you your pay, but formally lodging a complaint is a good place to start.

The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them. -Albert Einstein


That's a great idea. Instead of complaining about the situation all teachers affected should lodge official complaints.

I should have added a few links to some addresses, but someone in the forums has done that already. This should get you started:

the hyogo - nishikansai area.

and Okayama

and Osaka

and some Chiba/Tokyo I think.

The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them. -Albert Einstein


I was wondering if someone could clear some thing up for me?As far as I'm aware, by Japanese law, anyone working over 20 hours is eligible to collect unemployment insurance. This appears to be the case for me as I a 0.7% payment is deducted from my gross salary monthly (as per usual norms). However, I can't recall having received an unemployment insurance card. Should I have?

Did you get a phone call from your Nova recruiter saying not to come? WOW! That would be news. I just got here a month ago and am turning around and leaving because I did not get paid. I think you made the best choice!

Does anyone have any information on the following re unemployment insurance?

1) How much do you actually get? I've seen and heard figures of 50-80%, 60% or "about 70%", but how do they calculate the amount? I'd assume longer time worked there would mean a higher amount, right?

2) Once you've made your initial visit to hello work and done the necessary paperwork, what do you have to do thereafter to keep receiving the payments? In the UK, where I'm from, you had to go back to the job centre and "sign on" every 2 weeks and were sometimes required to say what you'd been doing to look for work - is it similar with hello work? Just wondering if it would be feasible to, say, make a brief trip out of Japan back home, but not jeopardise your unemployment insurance payments?

Any useful input much appreciated.

Unemployment Insurance (officially known as Employment Insurance) is a benefit that provides an allowance to an unemployed worker for general living expenses while seeking stable employment. Enrollment requires that you work for 20 hours or more per week.

Employment Insurance is administered by the Public Employment Security Office ("Hello Work"). You qualify for this if you are fired or made redundant, if the company doesn't renew your contract, or if you leave the job at the end of your contract. If you voluntarily leave your job before the end of your contract, you don't automatically qualify. Companies (except small businesses in fishery, forestry and agriculture) must enrol workers on this scheme. Unfortunately many companies evade their obligations in this regard. Subcontract workers and undocumented workers are not eligible for enrolment on this scheme. The worker and the employer each pay a contribution. The worker's contribution is 0.7% of salary, which is deducted from each month's salary payment. The employers premium is 1.05% (as of Oct 2002).

My husband and I finished at Nova at the end of July of this year. We have not received our paychecks. I doubt that we can apply for unemployment insurance because we ourselves resigned. However, the company is offering no assistance nor information about the status of our paychecks. We are determined to be paid for our last month of employment. Who can we contact? Any information is appreciated. Thanks

I spoke to some people who've gone through bankruptcies in Japan before and according to them,

"The entire company has to first be liquidated and sold, with the creditors getting paid out according to a roster. Last on that list are the employees of the company."

... is not true. In western countries this is true, but in Japan, employees are at the top of the list. So that's some good news. HOWEVER, bad news is, my Japanese friend who worked for a much much smaller company that went bankrupt said it took her 1 year to collect her unpaid wages, and was only payed 80% of the initial amount owed. :(

Sounds contradicting doesn't it? I just thought I'd add my findings as information is hard to come by.


can anyone help me...
the term of my employment began on the 19th of April 20007. To claim unemployment insurance do i need to have worked up until the 19th of October or just the start of October???
Any comment would be greatly appreciated



yes. 6 months.

6 months to the date?

As The Special One and former manager of Chelsea, me and Monkey Bridge have a lot in common. We both have over inflated egos. We both get / got paid too much and we have a lot of employees we would rather not work with. However there is one huge difference between the two of us. I knew when to get out. When my relationship with the Russki got unbearable, I jumped ship. Sadly Monkey Bridge does not realise that he is villified and hated by thousands of locals and foreigners alike. Monkey Bridge, my advice to you Son is "GET OUT NOW and stop making so mnay people's lives a misery".
Come and join me on the beaches in Portugal!!!
Jose "The Special One" Mourinho

Where do I find/get the unemployment number or card??

The people at Hello Work can give you a new employment insurance certificate. You just need to give them your details so they can find you on the system. If you can get someone at payroll to give you your employment insurance number that would make the whole process a lot easier.

I was considering taking the weekend off if i don't get paid on the 19th, but i heard that when you collect your unemployment insurance, it is calculated from the number of hours worked, so pulling sickies is only going to reduce my unemployment money. Is this true? i've heard a bunch of different things and dont know what to believe

Unemployment Insurance is based upon an average of your salary for each month over 6 months. But even so, because there is a maximum daily amount you can get, taking a few days off won't really affect your UI.

With so many teachers now leaving NOVA, please be cautious about small private Companies that are looking for teachers. Many of these places do not follow strict guidlines for payscales, or working hours, and I am afrian many teachers will be further hurt by many employers fishing for these uneducated and bewildered teachers.
I ran into a few of these comapanies when I first arrived in japan. please try and learn a bit about the labour laws before you sign any contracts with these companies.

my opinion
Current value: 2 cents

You shoud check the 6 month info at hello work, some japanese friends told me the law has changed or will recently change from needing to have worked for 6 months to needing to have worked for 1 year.
Check and find out before you make any descisions.
Good luck commrade!

For those don't know what to believe and don't know much about Unemployment Insurance in Japan the following 2 links would be first resource you should read.
Most of the procedures are mentioned.

EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE SYSTEM by Osaka Employment Service Center for Foreigners

Normaly "the employee may terminate his contract by giving thirty days written notice to the employer " ( as written on the contract ). But I have find a part time job, so I have to quit quicly Nova ( who does not paid me yet anyway ). Can I quit without respect the 30 days ? ( with the reason I'm paid late from 2 months )

( sorry for my english I'm not an english native )

( I should say " can I leave without notice of 30 days for the reason I've not be paid at time during the last 2 months AND collect the unemployement insurance immediatly, without waiting 3 months ? )

I left, with ZERO days warning, a month ago. You don't NEED to give any notice to a company, especially one that will be nonexistent in 30 days time anyway. Giving notice is just a nice thing to do when you are wanting to terminate your employee relations respectfully, or perhaps just to get letters of commendation. I can't imagine either reason applies here. Besides, they've already severely breeched the contract on their end, so affectively it's void. Just get out of there, your wasting your time.

BTW: No matter how your employment ends, maximum UI you can collect in Japan is 90 days.

In fact I decided to stay at Nova just a little more, only for the JMA ( until JMA also don't works ). And because I'm 34 hours lessons, I'm a part timer ( lol ) I will work for an another part time job I found... In the same times, the days I will not go to work because I'm not paid, I'll search another part time or a full time. ( I'm already searching from a long time of course ).
Thank you for your answer.

It's maybe a stupid question in Japan ( but not in my country ), are we paid ( even not totally ) duraing the time we cannot go to work because the schools are closed ???
I saw we are paid 60 % of our normal salary but I don't know if it's true...
If it's true do we have to call every day Nova ? (" hello I just inform you the school where I work is closed, but it's not my choice to not work today..." )

all this guide written in English about the insurance are the same ? not even you are a Nova teacher?

I have a lot to learn form you guys, I think we need further deeper approaches into handling HR management and career training. Yes, sure laws have a word to say here but they are constantly present, we have to work to variable items to bring a good contribution to this whole picture.
Arizona HR Consulting

The benefits are not enough in sustaining the needs of the unemployed. It so sad that the fact that the economy is struggling the crisis, those unemployed are also struggling those hard times of living. Adding to the growing numbers of unemployed is the coffee empire, Starbucks. Starbucks will be dropping several thousand employees after a massive loss of income. The company's income dropped 69% over the last quarter, as luxury spending has nosedived in the recession and as faxless payday loans are on the rise. Perhaps they'd like some faxless payday loans with that Frappalicious beverage.

If a person is let go from the company, Or if the company declares bankrupcy then what percent of your salary would be covered in employment insurnace.

Eighty percent, of unpaid wages, after Nova went under.

I seem to recall that the amount of unemployment insurance you receive is about 60% of your salary. How much you receive depends on a number of factors. First, there's your daily wage at the time of quitting or losing your job. For example, if you made Y300,000 a month, your daily wage would be Y10,000 (300k/30 days). Next, your age and the time you were employed is factored in to determine how much UI you will actually receive.


Shawn is spot on, the Unemployment Insurance and the Unpaid Wages were completely unrelated. U.I. worked out (for me) to be about 50% of my standard monthly wage, and the Unpaid Wages was paid out in a lump sum of 80% of unpaid salary. Fiananced two bloody nice trips to Koh Samui, and Hawaii!

I got the unpaid Nova wages (80% of salary) but couldn't claim unemployment because I walked out on Nova and went to GABA.....

Looking back, I should have just claimed unemployment. At 50% of Salary, I'd have got as much as GABA paid me. DID NOT stay there long!

You have to be careful with GABA. The Contract completely favors them. You can be available for work, all day, every day, but they'll only pay you for classroom time, so can end up with nothing. Even in a sector like EIKAIWA where jobs can be notoriously shitty, GABA really plumb the depths.

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