Sat, Aug 15, 2015 - Page 8 News List

Part-time employees, insurance and the law

By Kuo Ming-cheng 郭明政

The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Labor have demanded that universities improve employees’ rights. As a result, a number of universities have said that they will cut part-time student jobs. This development means that students will have fewer chances to work and study, and universities will have fewer chances to offer jobs to help students learn and grow. The result could mean that both parties lose.

The main cause of the dispute is the labor ministry’s rule that all part-time employees whose monthly wage is less than the basic monthly wage are insured based on a monthly pay of NT$11,100. In other words, for a student working part-time on campus with a monthly wage of NT$5,000, the school must pay labor insurance fees on a minimum insured monthly wage basis of NT$11,100. The Ministry of Health and Welfare does not categorize these jobs properly and demands that universities cover part-time employees’ health insurance fees based on a basic monthly wage of NT$20,008. It has been estimated that for each part-time teaching assistant a university employs, the institution must pay an additional NT$2,412 to cover labor and health insurance fees and retirement pensions.

This raises two questions. First, why is there a rule that overcharges on insurance fees? Second, should part-time employees be covered by health and labor insurance?

Prior to 1998, the Enforcement Rules of the Labor Insurance Act (勞工保險條例施行細則) stipulated that labor insurance coverage was limited to full-time employees. After the Council of Grand Justices’ Constitutional Interpretation No. 456 declared that this violated the Constitution, the government amended the law to extend labor insurance to part-time employees. Even so, the labor ministry insists that part-time employees’ minimum insured monthly pay is NT$11,100, disregarding actual wages. This means a part-time employee with a monthly pay of NT$5,000 must still be insured at a higher level.

This rule has at least two major flaws. First, the labor ministry has arbitrarily interpreted the constitutional interpretation by restricting labor insurance for part-time employees to a monthly wage basis, thus challenging the council’s ruling. Second, overcharging insurance fees is a violation of the nature of social insurance, not to mention that such an act is unconstitutional according to Constitutional Interpretation No. 549.

However, the dispute over student workers’ insurance coverage can be resolved if they are insured according to their actual wages. If this happens, the burden universities face can be reduced and students can keep their part-time jobs. Then the government can create a win-win situation. To achieve this goal, all universities should fight for their students’ rights on just grounds, instead of cutting part-time jobs.

In fact, social protection for all part-time employees should be ensured. The system is hostile toward both part-time and hourly workers, and many employers dare not employ such workers. The labor market has evolved, and a large amount of “atypical work” has developed. Taiwan should learn from industrialized nations so it can properly respond to the issue of social protection for part-time and hourly workers.

Faced with various social needs brought by employment, especially the needs of young people, women and retirees, the rights of part-time and hourly workers should be promoted. The first step of a concrete method is to abolish the flawed system that overcharges insurance fees.

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