Tue, Nov 07, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Cabinet, DPP agree to labor law revisions

SEEKING FLEXIBILITY:However, not all the DPP lawmakers agreed with all of the proposed changes, with two voicing concern about adequate rest times

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

The Cabinet is close to finalizing a proposed amendment to the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) that would relax overtime rules, including the mandatory second weekly day off and the total overtime cap.

The amendment would relax a rule that requires two days off every week, reinstate a previous overtime rate, raise the cap on total overtime hours in a three-month period and reduce the minimum rest time between shifts, the Cabinet said after an agreement was reached with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers in a routine meeting chaired by Premier William Lai (賴清德).

The amendment would allow businesses to seek three levels of approval to be exempted from the rule stipulating a mandatory day off every week, Executive Yuan spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said.

Businesses would have to seek approval from their regulatory authority, the Ministry of Labor and their workers’ union, Hsu said, noting that the relevant authority for tourism agencies is the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, while for the film industry it is the Ministry of Culture.

If given approval from all three levels, businesses would be able to adopt a two-week work schedule that allows the employer and employees to adjust workdays and days off within the 14 days.

“Labor rights are not only about working hours and salary, but also flexibility,” Hsu said, adding that “most of the lawmakers agreed to the proposal.”

The proposed amendment would also scrap the current overtime rule, which allows employees to receive four hours of pay for work between one and four hours if they work on their “rest days” — the flexible weekly day off on which they can be asked to work.

Instead, employers would pay overtime based on the actual number of hours, Hsu said.

The move would ensure workers’ “right to overtime” because it would restore flexibility, since the current system has meant that some employers often ask employees to work up to four hours or eight hours even though fewer overtime hours are actually needed, he said.

The cap on total overtime hours would be raised from 46 per month to a maximum of 138 over a three-month period, Hsu said.

It would keep the minimum rest time between shifts at 11 hours, but allow businesses to reduce it to between eight and 11 hours with the consent of employees or unions, Hsu said.

The amendment would also allow for a one-year extension of unused annual leave days, while employers would be required to pay departing employees for any annual leave they have not used.

Some DPP lawmakers, including Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬) and Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲), opposed easing the minimum-one-day-off rule.

Such a move could see employees work 12 days in a row if they are asked to work on “rest days,” which would not give them adequate rest, Lin said.

Kuan objected to the across-the-board relaxation of the rule instead of an industry-specific easing.

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