Fri, Jul 01, 2016 - Page 1 News List

Cabinet passes labor act amendments

HOLIDAY DISPUTE:The government has come under fire for revising its stance on whether to cancel seven national holidays as proposed by the Ministry of Labor

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

Executive Yuan spokesman Tung Chen-yuan yesterday speaks during a news conference at the Executive Yuan in Taipei.

Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times

The Cabinet yesterday passed amendments to the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) proposed by the Ministry of Labor, which would introduce “one fixed day off and one flexible rest day” — or yili yixiu (一例一休) — as two weekly days off to guarantee the realization of the 40--hour work week policy, while canceling seven days off for national holidays.

“With efforts from the Ministry of Labor, Executive Yuan staff and the Democratic Progressive Party [DPP] caucus, we have finally produced this version [of amendments]. Despite all the difficulties, it is a more feasible version that would lead to as little conflict as possible,” Premier Lin Chuan (林全) was quoted as saying by Cabinet spokesman Tung Chen-yuan (童振源) in a post-meeting news conference. “However, there are still differences of opinion, and we need to continue to communicate with the public.”

According to the ministry’s proposed amendments, employers may ask employees to work on their “fixed day off” only in the event of a natural disaster or emergency, and would have to compensate employees with double salary for the day plus an additional day off to make up for it.

Regarding the “flexible rest day,” employers may ask employees to work after obtaining their consent, but are obligated to provide additional pay, ranging from one and one-third to one and two-thirds times the worker’s basic salary.

However, employees would not get an extra day off if they work on a “flexible rest day.”

Moreover, the proposal would also cancel seven holidays for workers to make all workers, including civil servants, enjoy the same number of national holidays.

The Cabinet’s final amendment proposals drew fire from both labor rights advocates and businesses.

Labor rights activists have been calling for two fixed days off per week and to keep the seven national holidays, while businesses have complained about the high overtime pay they have to offer employees to have them work on a “flexible rest day.”

The seven holidays that the ministry proposed to cancel were also a point of dispute as the government has revised its stance about whether to keep the holidays several times, and has been accused by labor activists of breaking its promise.

Separately, DPP caucus chief executive Wu Ping-jui (吳秉叡) said after a lunch meeting with the premier that the caucus would seek to pass the amendments in September.

“The premier would like the amendments to be passed as soon as possible, so that businesses can more accurately calculate their costs,” Wu said.

He said that not all caucus members supported the proposals, but added that working conditions would improve with the amendments, as they would require employers to provide more overtime pay and obtain consent from their employees to have them work on their rest days.

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