A 7.4 magnitude earthquake rocked Japan Wednesday night, killing four people. One Redditor says she was caught in the earthquake—but thankfully, she only broke a window. But she did get a chewing out from her boss because the hassle of trying to repair the window caused her to be only five minutes early for her shift instead of her usual 45 minutes early.
In a post to the popular Reddit forum r/antiwork, u/lesbianintokyo shared her story, promising she’s never working early again. Her story garnered over 12,300 upvotes and over 450 comments.
“I always come into work 30-45 minutes early, and unpaid, mostly because I know it’s difficult to get things organized and I want to make things easier for my boss,” u/lesbianintokyo wrote, explaining that she’s scheduled to start work at 4 p.m as an English and math teacher.
“Anyway last night in Japan there was a huge earthquake. My window broke so spent a lot of time this morning and afternoon talking to my landlord and getting it repaired,” she continued.
“I walked until work at 3:55 (still early). My boss immediately started yelling at me demanding to know why I was late. That things were still not clean and organized and that I was being selfish. Once I explained that I wasn’t late and that I come in early just to be nice she started ranting again,” she explained.
“She told me that tomorrow (Friday) she expects me there at the normal (early) time. Yep guess who is not going in early anymore,” u/lesbianintokyo concluded.
Later in the thread, u/lesbianintokyo said, “I know that we are short staffed so I usually set up classrooms to give others a break. My job description does not mention classroom maintenance. I do several task not in my description. It ended today”.
She also clarified in a comment to Newsweek that the “organizing” that she would do include “putting up tables, adding classroom dividers, setting up the computers for online lessons,” but that’s not her job, but “my bosses or the staff members job.”
“So I had to start a class 5 minutes late because nothing was ready for me. My boss was upset about that too,” u/lesbianintokyo told Newsweek. She also mentioned that she told her boss why she was late—but her boss didn’t care or even ask if she was okay.
Some bosses may try to ask hourly employees to come in early to work, unpaid. However, in the U.S., this is illegal—and, according to the Japanese General Union, it’s illegal there, too. “Hours worked,” according to the U.S. Department of Labor “includes all time an employee must be on duty, or on the employer’s premises or at any other prescribed place of work. Also included is any additional time the employee is allowed (i.e., suffered or permitted) to work.” Japan treats “hours worked” in much the same way, according to the General Union.
In other words, legally, u/lesbianintokyo should be compensated for her organizing time. And this was echoed by many of the redditors on the r/antiwork subreddit.
“‘Oh, my regular work hours start at 3? I guess my check for the back pay you owe just got lost in the mail?'” u/Vibrantmender20 wrote. “I imagine that would shut them up pretty quickly.”
“If your boss wants you there 45 min before the start of you shift clock in when you get there. The moment the company expects you to start working is the moment they are required to start paying you,” u/Lonewolfe1222 said.
“Join NUGW. Berlitz unionized workers (Begunto) struck against unpaid required prep time and won all their back pay. Non-union workers got nothing. There’s strength in numbers and the Japanese court system often favors labor in such cases,” u/UseWhatever wrote.
“I used to come in 10-15 minutes early every day on my own volition. I averaged an extra hour of unpaid work every week (and this doesn’t include missing breaks). The one time I leave early I get punished by being forced to cover the missing hour of pay with annual leave,” u/JebusJM wrote.
“At the last place I worked (that I ‘affectionately’ refer to as the seventh circle, I used to come in early, eat lunch at my desk and stay late. The day I walked in TWO minutes late and an email popped up as soon as I sat down admonishing me about how we’re expected to be on time and work our “designated hours” (I was salaried) was the last day they got any extra time from me. You wanna play nickel and dime with time? Fine. The two minutes I was late cost you at least two HOURS in free labor,” u/raulrocks99 wrote.
Newsweek reached out to u/lesbianintokyo for comment.