A relaxation of standards for foreign laborers to allow them to change careers when they have been sexually assaulted, harassed by their employers or forced into labor by smugglers is being considered by the Ministry of Labor to better protect their rights.
According to the ministry, the standing regulations for foreign laborers wanting to change employers require that their prospective new employer be in the same business as their current vocation.
Cases of foreign laborers being sexually assaulted, harassed or beaten by their employers and incidents of human trafficking in recent years have highlighted the issue that laborers may not wish to stay in the same industry when they want to change jobs, the ministry said.
The ministry said that it is mulling relaxing the regulations for foreign laborers who take care of the elderly and hopes to implement a policy of these workers getting at least one day off a week to rest.
Families who employ foreign laborers at home are unable to balance the laborers’ workload and leisure time, the ministry said, and most families choose to pay higher wages for laborers to work overtime, but then they get no time off.
Due to protests by some disadvantaged families, who said that giving their foreign laborers days off left their elderly uncared for, the ministry is also considering the possibility of allowing such families to hire other laborers on an hourly basis.
However, the measure will first be tested in a foreign laborer domestic care and service industry project, to allow the ministry to better formulate a draft domestic labor protection act.
The ministry said it hopes that the new measures would allow specific organizations to recruit foreign laborers and dispatch them to families who wish to hire them on an hourly basis.
There are trial offices in New Taipei City and Greater Taichung, each with a roster of 50 laborers to choose from, the ministry said, adding that if the project is successful, offices would be opened in seven locations across the nation.
The ministry said it hopes to pass the new regulations by next month and that they would prove significant in paving the way for a draft domestic labor protection act and a draft long-term care service act.
Meanwhile, the ministry said that it recently completed a system allowing employers to link their application data to Chunghwa Post (中華郵政) or the Bureau of Labor Insurance and so cut down on paperwork.
“We expect more than 50,000 applicants for the service to benefit from the system,” the ministry said.
Minister of Labor Chen Hsiung-wen (陳雄文) said that citizens should not employ foreign laborers illegally or take in foreign laborers of unknown origin, adding that failure to comply with the Employment Service Act (就業服務法) would result in fines ranging from NT$150,000 (US$4,900) to NT$750,000.
Chen said that violators would also have to shoulder the fees for housing the foreign workers and their repatriation.
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