When the coronavirus situation started, my wages decreased by 20,000 Yen from March onwards. The company says that I'm the reason for the reduction, that it's a penalty for my making mistakes and not doing what I was supposed to, but I don't get why it has continued every month since then. It had never happened before, and my contract says nothing about a reduction in wages.
As a rule, a company cannot arbitrarily decide to instate a reduction (gengaku / 減額) in wages or salary (kyūyo / 給与, chingin / 賃金). As wages are determined by a contract between the worker (rōdōsha / 労働者) and the company (kaisha / 会社), and a contract is an agreement between both parties, the worker's agreement (in writing) to the reduction in wages is required.
However, a company can decide to reduce wages as a punitive measure towards workers who violate workplace rules. In this situation, a certain amount is deducted from the wages that the worker would normally receive. Even so, it is necessary to determine the category (reason) and the degree of the wage reduction (within the amount stipulated by law) within the work regulations.
Work regulations (shūgyō kisoku / 就業規則) specify the conditions under which a worker is to work at that workplace, decided by the company in consultation with a representative representing at least half of the workers (in a company employing at least ten regular workers), and submitted to the Labour Standards Inspection Office. Work regulations must always be clear to workers.
As for your particular case of having your wages reduced, you will need to ask the company for an explanation of the grounds for the reduction, and also for confirmation of which work regulations were applicable and how they were applied. If you disagree with the grounds for the reduction in wages or the amount, you can call the Telephone Consultation Service for Foreign Workers, or consult the Labour Standards Inspection Office with jurisdiction.
Counseling Services and Hotlines in Foreign Languages (Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare):
Nagoya International Center Civic Advisory Service for Foreign Residents
A free civic advisory service for foreign residents is available in person or by telephone at the Information Counter. A dedicated member of staff provides consultations on issues encountered by foreign residents in their day to day lives, in 9 languages.
For more information on the Civic Advisory Service (including service times and languages, and other free consultations for foreign residents, click here.
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