An amendment capping weekly work hours at 40 passed the legislature yesterday.
The amendment of the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) cleared to the cheers of lawmakers across party lines, who hailed it as “a victory for workers.”
The act stipulates that a worker is not to work more than eight hours a day or 84 hours every two weeks.
Starting from next year, workers will be under no obligation to work for more than 40 hours per week or eight hours per day, according to the amendment, which is regarded as the legal foundation for workers to get two days off per week.
There was also a revision that allows more flexibility to start and finish times. For employees starting or finishing within an hour of the scheduled times and where there is no change to the regular working hours, arrangements can be made depending on a worker’s needs or the needs of family members.
“Flexibility is conducive to a more friendly working environment and the enhancement of female workers’ participation in the workforce, as mothers could leave work earlier to take care of their children,” said Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alicia Wang (王育敏), who proposed to include the clause in the amendment.
Taiwan has the third-highest legal working hours per year in the world, 2,124 hours, according to a report by the Ministry of Labor, higher than the average among developed countries, which all have yearly working hours limited to fewer than 2,000, KMT Legislator Chiang Hui-chen (江惠貞) said.
“We hope that with the legislation, we can shed the stigma of being an overworked island,” Chiang said.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chao Tien-lin (趙天麟) said the 40-Hour Week Convention was passed by the International Labour Organization as early as 1935 and has been followed for years by countries such as the US, Japan and South Korea.
“What we have done today is give workers what they deserve,” Chao said.
Ministry of Labor official Liu Chuan-min (劉傳名) said after the third reading of the amendment: “We hope that supporting measures and other revisions can also be established, and that continued communication with workers and enterprise representatives will be carried out to make sure that they adjust to the changes.”
“We also hope that the legislature could soon review other amendment proposals made by the Executive Yuan to support the 40-hour cap,” Liu added.
These include an increase of the monthly limit for overtime from 46 to 54 hours, Liu said.
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