A Taiwan NextGen Foundation survey released on Wednesday found that about 66 percent of workers do not fully understand the latest amendments to the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法).
Amendments to the act passed on Jan. 10 include a policy that allows conditional use of a “12 days on, two off” schedule instead of an across-the-board “one day off every seven days” schedule, a monthly overtime limit of 54 hours instead of 46 hours, a conditional rest time between shifts of eight hours instead of 11 hours and a new rule that allows for a maximum of 138 hours of overtime over three months.
The three-month rule was a concern for Taipei Department of Labor Commissioner Lai Hsiang-lin (賴香伶), who argued that a worker who was overworked in a particular month might not be legally protected if the employer could argue that the overtime fell widthin a three-month interval that did not exceed the maximum.
The government should better define that portion of the law, Lai said.
There have been frequent discussions about and changes to the labor laws over the past year. Keeping up with the proposals and changes has proven a challenge for both workers and employers. Employers have worked around the rules, often to the detriment of workers. Workers have been confused about whether amendments are to their benefit — a problem further exacerbated by politicians’ rhetoric.
“The government must consider establishing more direct and effective ways of communicating with workers,” Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wang Ding-yu (王定宇) said.
One might question the need for such complexity in laws governing work time in Taiwan, when other countries have had the issue worked out for decades.
In the US, the issue was first addressed in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. By mandating overtime pay, it discourages having employees work more than 40 hours in a work week. The act does not stipulate a maximum number of hours, but it requires employers to pay time-and-a-half for all hours beyond the first 40 of the week, except to workers employed as bona fide executive, administrative, professional or outside sales employees. The law is flexible by not limiting overtime, but protects workers by discouraging overtime through the mandatory increase in hourly pay.
The flexibility that the Taiwanese government has introduced into the law is more favorable to employers by having different tiers of overtime pay, and allowing overtime hours to be averaged over several weeks and now several months.
This approach introduces unnecessary complexity, creating loopholes that employers could potentially exploit. The more complex the law, the less likely employees are to understand their rights and the more likely they are to be exploited.
Article 153 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union takes an even more worker-friendly approach to legislating work time by mandating a maximum 48-hour work week unless the worker agrees to work more. The EU Working Time Directive 2003 guarantees a minimum of 28 paid holidays per year for EU workers.
Workers in East Asian countries are typically expected to work overtime — usually unpaid — despite laws designed to limit overtime and to require overtime pay.
In principle, Japan has had a 40-hour work week in place since 1987 and under Article 37 of the Japanese Labor Standards Act of 1947, employers are expected to pay workers at least 25 percent more than their regular wages for overtime hours.
However, the working culture in Japan stigmatizes those who fail to put in overtime or who request overtime pay. It is not uncommon for people in Japan to die from stress-related illness stemming from overwork, a phenomenon known as karoshi (過勞死).
South China Sea exercises in July by two United States Navy nuclear-powered aircraft carriers reminds that Taiwan’s history since mid-1950, and as a free nation, is intertwined with that of the aircraft carrier. Eventually Taiwan will host aircraft carriers, either those built under its democratic government or those imposed on its territory by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). By September 1944, a lack of sufficient carrier airpower and land-based airpower persuaded US Army and Navy leaders to forgo an invasion to wrest Taiwan from Japanese control, thereby sparing Taiwanese considerable wartime destruction. But two
This year, India and Taiwan can look back on 25 years of so-called unofficial ties. This provides an occasion to ponder over how they can deepen collaboration and strengthen their relations. This reflection must be free from excitement and agitation caused by the ongoing China-US great power jostling as well as China’s aggressive actions against many of its neighbors, including India. It must be based on long-term trends in bilateral engagement. To begin with, India and Taiwan, thus far, have had relations constituted by various activities, but what needs to be thought about now is whether they can transform their ties
The US Navy’s aircraft carrier battle groups are the most dramatic symbol of Washington’s military and geopolitical power. They were critical to winning World War II in the Pacific and have since been deployed in the Indo-Pacific region to communicate resolve against potential adversaries of the US. The presence or absence of the US Seventh Fleet — the configuration of US Navy ships and aircraft in the Indo-Pacific region built around the carriers — generally determines whether war or peace prevails in the region. In the immediate post-war period, Washington’s strategic planners in the administration of then-US president Harry Truman shockingly
On Thursday last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a barnstorming speech at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California, titled “Communist China and the Free World’s Future.” The speech set out in no uncertain terms the insoluble ideological divide between a totalitarian, communist China and the democratic, free-market values of the US. It was also a full-throated call to arms for all nations of the free world to rally behind the US and defeat China. Pompeo elaborated on a clear distinction between China and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), in an attempt to recalibrate the