Tokyo medical school won’t pay staff over virus leave caused by ‘inappropriate behavior’ – The Mainichi – The Mainichi

A written notice that Tokyo Women's Medical University distributed to employees is seen in this Feb. 8, 2021 photo. The notice states that workers "will not be paid for taking leave if they are recognized to have engaged in obviously inappropriate behavior." (Mainichi/Nobuyuki Shimada) Tokyo Women's Medical University is seen in this June 2002 photo. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- Tokyo Women's Medical University has notified its employees that they will not get paid for taking leave due to coronavirus infections if it was caused by "inappropriate behavior" among other reasons, sources close to the school have revealed to the Mainichi Shimbun.

Employees at the university, based in the capital's Shinjuku Ward, have raised voices of concern, saying the in-house rule could be "applied arbitrarily" as it does not specify what exactly constitutes "inappropriate behavior."

According to individuals connected to the university, the notice was issued by the personnel affairs division of the school's management control department on Jan. 29, under the title: "Regarding treatment when taking leave due to infections with the novel coronavirus and other reasons." The notice was addressed to employees of the university, as well as doctors, nurses and other workers at three affiliated hospitals that are accepting coronavirus patients.

The document states that staff will not get paid during leave if they were recognized to have contracted the virus either through "conduct that runs counter to the university's request for self-restraint" or "obviously inappropriate conduct."

If staff are recognized to have come into close contact with coronavirus carriers or ordered to stay at home due to a fever or other COVID-19 symptoms, the no-pay rule also applies for their leave or quarantine at home if they are recognized to have caught the virus through either one of the aforementioned reasons.

The university requires employees to wear masks and goggles on campus, refrain from nonessential and nonurgent meetings or attending gatherings for meals, and bans the use of facilities including karaoke bars and gyms. It is assumed that violations of these rules would constitute "conduct against requests for refraining from activities." However, the document does not specify what exactly is "obviously inappropriate behavior."

The notice points out that "workers at the medical university essentially need to provide labor in a healthy state." It also emphasizes that taking time off from work after getting the coronavirus due to failure to take countermeasures "constitutes default under the Civil Code," saying it is based on a view obtained from a consulting lawyer.

"I felt as if I were being threatened as the notice went out of its way to bring up a viewpoint offered by a lawyer," fumed an employee working at an affiliated hospital. "The document doesn't even explain what would happen if someone was infected with the coronavirus without their awareness."

A public relations office at the university told the Mainichi Shimbun, "We announced a policy not to pay salaries to employees who raised the risk of spreading infections on campus as a result of clearly violating our request for self-restraint. The policy is not aimed at withholding payment from all staff members who contract the virus."

A worker interviewed by the Mainichi Shimbun expressed concern that many staff would leave their jobs in response to the notice. "All the more because the coronavirus crisis is dragging on, the employer is essentially required to lay out a policy that can maintain motivation among health care workers. All that the university has done so far runs contrary to this. Many of my colleagues are dumbfounded," the employee said.

(Japanese original by Nobuyuki Shimada, City News Department)

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Tokyo medical school won't pay staff over virus leave caused by 'inappropriate behavior' - The Mainichi - The Mainichi

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