EVA Airways Corp (長榮航空) was fined NT$60,000 (US$1,945) for failing to protect its employees from physical and mental harm caused by others during the execution of their duty after a passenger asked its flight attendants to remove his underpants and wipe his behind before and after using the toilet during a flight from Los Angeles to Taipei last month.
The incident on Jan. 19 involved a passenger who demanded that flight attendants assist him because he had a right-hand injury, EVA Air Union said.
The Office of Labor Inspection conducted an inspection of EVA Air on Jan. 22 after a flight attendant appeared traumatized by the incident at a news conference the day before.
The office concluded that the airline contravened the Occupational Safety and Health Act (職業安全衛生法) and Regulations Governing the Installation of Occupational Safety and Health Facilities (職業安全衛生設施規則) when it failed to implement preventive measures to safeguard cabin crew members from harm.
“We hope the airline will quickly address the problem, support the flight attendant affected by the incident and allow her to take work-related sick leave,” the union said.
The ruling said that employers should improve on-duty protection for employees so that they are not humiliated by passengers’ excessive demands, the union said, adding that it has prompted the public to question a work culture that says the customer is always right and to consider where service personnel should draw the line when attending to customer.
The union plans to discuss the incident with company management at a meeting next month, it added.
The flight attendant returned to work after taking three weeks of sick leave on her doctor’s orders.
The airline had said it was waiting for a reply from the Bureau of Labor Insurance before granting the flight attendant work-related sick leave.
The Ministry of Labor had said that employers can grant workers work-related sick leave as long as the worker can provide medical proof, adding that the ministry’s occupational safety and health centers could assist employers and workers to assess what constitutes work-related sick leave.
The Act for Protecting Workers from Occupational Accidents (職災勞工保護法) stipulates that employers can first grant workers regular sick leave, then change the reason for the leave of absence and reimburse workers for lost wages after they meet the criteria for work-related sick leave.
The flight attendant would only receive half of her monthly salary if she applied for regular sick leave, but would receive her full salary for work-related sick leave, according to the Regulations of Leave-Taking of Workers (勞工請假規則).
The Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) stipulates that employers refusing to grant workers work-related sick leave could face a fine of between NT$20,000 and NT$1 million.
EVA Air said in a statement that it has started to make improvements, as requested by the Taoyuan Department of Labor.
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