Typhoon day decisions
As Typhoon Megi rumbled toward Taiwan last week, some counties and municipalities only gave workers and students half a day off on Tuesday. The mayors and county commissioners responsible have come under fire, with many critics saying that the decision was made in the interests of major employers, forcing employees to brave strong winds and heavy rain.
The great majority of Taiwanese companies are not big corporations such as Hon Hai and Formosa Plastics, but small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
According to figures published by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, as of the end of last year there were 1,383,981 SMEs, accounting for 97.69 percent of all companies and employing 8.76 million people. That works out at an average of 6.3 employees for each SME.
These SMEs probably do not have the same ability as big companies to bear unpredictable changes to costs, nor do they have enough stock and personnel to flexibly respond to sudden changes in their production schedules. Typhoon days are likely to have a much greater impact on SMEs than they do on larger companies.
When deciding on typhoon day arrangements, as well as considering how difficult it is to predict the rapidly changing wind and rain before a storm arrives, it must also be recognized that a typhoon day has very different effects on different-sized businesses and those engaged in different kinds of production. Local leaders need to keep all these aspects in mind when deciding what measures to take.
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