The policy regarding nenkyu (paid leave) and byokyu (sick leave) is one topic that never ceases to confuse JETs. Misunderstandings of what each one entails and the process for taking leave has continued to create problems at schools.

What is Nenkyu?

The following are excerpts from the Terms and Conditions for JET Participants in Okinawa.

…the JET is allowed to take 20 days of yearly paid leave individually or consecutively. The JET will be allocated 10 days of this leave upon commencing work, and will be allotted the remaining days on January 1. [Article 14: Section 1]

… up to 12 days of unused yearly paid leave may be carried over to the new appointment. [Article 14: Section 2]

To take yearly paid leave, the JET shall inform the Supervisor at least 3 days in advance. When the requested time off amounts to three or more days in succession, the JET is required to inform the Supervisor one month in advance. [Article 14: Section 3]


When Taking Nenkyu

  • avoid key school events, be careful of the time period
    • use the school calendar scheduled (nenkangyouji)
  • Make an effort to make up for lost classes
  • Discuss with your coordinator/BOE before you purchase tickets
    • There is nothing PAs can do if your nenkyu is not approved
    • We cannot force schools to accept your request
  • Inform your visiting school(s) if the dates affect them
  • If leaving the country, provide them with the Emergency Contact Details when Traveling form

What is Byokyu?

The following are excerpts from the Terms and Conditions for JET Participants in Okinawa.

The period of sick leave shall be the minimum period necessary when an illness or injury is acknowledged to result in an unavoidable inability to perform duties. [Article 15, Section 1]

The maximum sick leave to be used at one time shall not exceed a total of 20 consecutive days… (includes weekends) … If the period between two sick leave periods is less than 7 days, the two periods shall be taken as consecutive sick leave. [Article 15: Section 2]

 *it is not recommended to take byokyu unless absolutely necessary

When taking Byokyu

  • Teachers tend to take nenkyu instead for small colds and flu. It is not in accordance with Japanese custom to take a lot of byokyu days because it looks back on employee records. Please respect these differences in customs and culture.
  • Teachers are not used to taking byokyu and may not be clear of the procedure.
  • Byokyu stays on employment records. It does not look good for reappointment if you take a lot of sick days.
  • Cannot be taken in hourly units
  • Must get supervisor approval. Byokyu, like all types of leave, is not automatic.
  • You will need a doctor’s note to prove the sick leave. If you call in sick, take the day off, and come to school the next day without a note, they will ask you to log it down as nenkyu.

Nenkyu vs Byokyu

Reason Nenkyu? Byokyu?
Avoidable “sickness” (hangovers) nenkyu
Slight cold/Runny nose nenkyu
Dental Visits(1) nenkyu
Influenza* nenkyu/byokyu
Doctor’s Order to Rest* byokyu
Hospitalization* byokyu

*requires a doctor’s note
(1) Dental Visits are considered unavoidable sickness, however due to their availability during non-work hours they are considered nenkyu.