On Friday, May 15, Taiwan’s parliament passed an amendment to the Labor Standards Act’s Article 30 to lower the maximum normal working hour from 84 hours per two weeks, to 40 hours per week, or eight hours per day with a two-day weekend.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Labor explained that the changes will accompany a decrease of seven national holidays, with a net decrease of 48 working hours per year under the new law. This brings the working condition of laborers in line with that of government employees. Taiwan has had a six-day workweek until 2001 when government employees were the first to enjoy two-day weekends.
Reactions from both labor advocates and business representatives are within expectations, with labor advocates praising the move but says more needs to be done. The Taiwan Labor Front said that Taiwanese worker are some of the hardest workers in the world, and more should be done to cut total hours per year. Business groups such as the Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce said the new measure will hurt industries in Taiwan, forcing factories to relocate overseas.
Taiwanese workers work at 2,124 hours per year, compared to Mexico at 2,237 hours, the United States at 1,788 hours, Japan at 1,735 and Switzerland at 1,585 in 2013, according to OECD.
A more controversial item to extend the cap for overtime work from 46 hours a month to 54 hours a month has not been reviewed by the parliament, due to opposition by both parties.
The new changes will go into effect starting January 1 of next year. An estimated 3.4 million workers will be affected.
Meanwhile, the parliament also passed the Long Term Care and Services Act, aimed at providing care for the elderly and regulating the home caretaker industry. The law also looks at consolidating various long term care services spread across homes, communities or hospices.
However, the most controversial question of funding was not resolved. Instead, a separate bill, the Long Term Care Insurance Act proposed by the ruling KMT, will set up a nationalized long term care insurance scheme.
DPP presidential candidate and chairperson Tsai Ing-wen criticized the NT$12 billion dollar budget allocated by the law as grossly inadequate, and opposed separating the two bills. The Ministry of Health and Welfare said that after the Insurance Act passes, it will have a budget of NT$100 billion dollars, about one-sixth of Taiwan’s National Healthcare budget in 2014.
(Feature photo by skeeze on Pixabay, CC0)