“Starting salaries from 250,000 yen” many ads declare. “Accommodation and visa support” are also “carrots” for the job seeker. These promises of fortune and help are often exaggerated. “Exaggerated?” you may ask. My response is “Yes, exaggerated.” Take, for example, the promise of the aforementioned 250,000 yen starting salary. More often than not what the employee gets deposited in their bank account is a lot less than 250,000 yen; hidden expenses have been deducted. These expenses can be anything from apartment rental to company health insurance fees that were not mentioned during the interview or written into any contract. There are even some companies that will inform the new employee that a percentage of their salary is being kept until he or she completes their contract.
Teaching Children English is now a booming business.
In the case of accommodation often the employee does not have a choice on where he or she will live – the school or company decides and often has a “special” contract with the apartment owner. The employee may also be forced to share accommodation with another teacher; a stranger no less.
Working hours and days off are also sometimes changed to suit students’ needs, not the teacher’s. Contracts may also state X amount of vacation days per year however, employees soon learn that they are unable to take their promised vacations randomly; the school or company puts their interests ahead of the teacher’s.
When applying for a job make sure you read the contract and any work rules thoroughly. Don’t do what many do and give documentation a cursory look then sign – you’ll regret it. Ask questions. If the contract states 250,000 yen per month, ask what the tax rate is and whether there are any other deductions. As for accommodation; if the company tells you that they have apartments available, ask to be shown each apartment. Your living conditions are very important – if you are unhappy in your apartment you will not be happy in your job.
There are quite a few Japanese companies offering English lessons or English services that are not above using nefarious methods to make money. You may consider yourself to be a serious and professional teacher, however, many company owners or upper management see you as a commodity. Remember the student always comes first and is always right – you are easily replaced, students are not.