Sick Leave

Sick leave (byokyu 病休) is leave you are contractually entitled to use when you fall ill and are unable to attend your regular work hours. If you are too sick to go to work:

  • Call your supervisor (see example conversation below)
  • Take sick leave – ᾿byokyu‘ (病休)
  • You may need a doctor’s note (shindansho 診断書) when you take byokyu; they usually cost about 3,000 yen. Confirm with your supervisor if you will need this.

Most Japanese teachers will never use their byokyu when they are sick. Instead they will use their paid leave days (nenkyu). You are not expected to do this if you are too ill to work, though teachers at your school may suggest as much. If you are sick but at school, you may be asked to wear a mask.

All JETs are entitled to byokyu, but the the number of days available and the rules for use will vary by contracting organization. Confirm with your supervisor when and how byokyu can be used before you get sick.

Also, while most JETs have quite a few days of byokyu available a year, do not abuse it (i.e., taking byokyu when you have a hangover, etc.) or use it as an extension of your nenkyu (paid leave). By doing so you jeopardize this privilege for all JETs and will tarnish the reputation of the JET Programme and all JETs.

Calling Your Supervisor

When you call in sick your supervisor will often inform your school(s). Here is a basic example conversation to explain you are sick and will take the day off:

You: Sumimasen. Taichou ga warui desu. Kyou wa yasundemo ii desu ka?

I’m sorry. I’m not feeling well. Can I have today off?

Supervisor: Honto? Dou shitan desu ka.

OK, really? What’s the matter?

You: Atama ga itai desu/ Onaka ga itai desu/ Darui desu/ Netsu ga arimasu.

My head hurts/ My stomach hurts/ I feel sluggish/ I have a fever.

Supervisor: Hai, wakarimashita. Odaiji ni!

Alright you can stay at home. Feel better!

You: Byoukyuu wo tsukattemo ii desu ka?

Can I use byokyu?

You: Shindansho ha hitsuyou desu ka?

Do I need a doctor’s note?

You: Sumimasen ga, byouin e tsurete itte moraemasu ka?

Can you take me to the hospital?