Tue, Jul 18, 2017 - Page 12 News List

Number of workers on furlough doubles: ministry

Staff writer, with CNA

The number of workers on furlough almost doubled in the first half of this month as the metals, electrical and mechanical industries placed more workers on unpaid leave, the Ministry of Labor said yesterday.

As of Saturday, the number of workers who had agreed to take unpaid leave was 327 — up 170 from the end of last month.

A total of 14 employers launched unpaid leave programs in the first half of the month after reaching agreement with their employees, up from 4 at the end of last month, the ministry said.

In the 15-day period, two employers ended their furlough programs, but six others launched new programs, it said.

Wang Ching-jung (王金蓉), a specialist in the ministry’s Labor Conditions and Equal Employment Division, said that of the six employers launching new furlough programs, three were from the metal or electric and mechanical sectors.

The government releases data on unpaid leave twice a month to provide an update on local labor market conditions.

According to the ministry, most of the companies with employees on unpaid leave are small enterprises with workforces of fewer than 50 employees as of Saturday.

All of the 14 employers with unpaid leave programs reached agreement with affected employees that they would take up to four days a month in unpaid leave for no more than three months.

Despite the increase in the number of workers on furlough in the first half of this year, the total tally shows the job market remains stable as the domestic economy continues to recover, analysts said.

The number of workers on unpaid leave always fluctuates, Wang said, but added that the ministry would keep a close eye on the labor market after the latest increase in workers on unpaid leave.

In late May, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) raised its forecast for GDP growth for this year from 1.92 percent to 2.05 percent.

The jobless rate edged down 0.01 percentage points from a month earlier to 3.66 percent in May, the lowest since May 2015, when the ratio stood at 3.62 percent.

The government has implemented a NT$20 billion (US$657.5 million) program to reduce the financial impact of furloughs on workers, offering training to upgrade job skills, the ministry said.

Under the program, trainees receive a stipend of NT$133 per hour to help meet their living expenses and work up to a maximum of 100 hours per month, it said.

Employees also have the option of taking online training courses on the ministry’s Skill Evaluation Center Web site, it said.

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