National Science Council (NSC) Minister Lee Lou-chuang (李羅權) took issue yesterday with local media reports that high-tech businesses are forcing employees to take furloughs as demand for their products slows.
Lee said that although production at local science parks was down in the first eight months of the year from the same period a year earlier, no furloughs had been reported between January and last month.
However, 28 companies have recently been encouraging employees to take their annual paid leave, Lee said at a legislative hearing in response to lawmakers’ questions on whether furloughs, commonly seen during the 2008 global financial crisis, had reappeared.
The number of people working at science parks reached a record 237,000 last month, Lee said, indicating that Taiwanese companies were still hiring new employees even as the global economy was mired in uncertainty.
Responding to a question from Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wong Chin-chu (翁金珠), Hsinchu Science Park Administration director-general Randy Yen (顏宗明) said it was difficult to tell whether companies in science parks would resort to furloughs in the near future.
However, the Central Taiwan Science Park in Greater Taichung and Southern Taiwan Science Park in Greater Tainan and Greater Kaohsiung denied companies had already begun forcing employees to take unpaid leave.
However, there are indications of labor market weakness.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Huang Chih-hsiung (黃志雄) expressed concern at yesterday’s hearings about high unemployment among postdoctoral researchers and Lee pledged that the council would work with firms to ease the problem next year.
Under the council’s project, companies that hire postdoctoral researchers would receive a monthly subsidy of NT$30,000 for each person they hire and the minimum monthly salary for such employees would be NT$57,000.
As for the nation’s overall job market, a domestic online job bank said that it would weaken in the fourth quarter, predicting that the jobless rate would rise to more than 5 percent in the fourth quarter and for all of next year.
Henry Ho (何啟聖), public relations director of 1111 Job Bank (1111人力銀行), said the job market had not yet completely absorbed the new graduates and warned they were chasing fewer jobs.
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