Cabinet approves draft parental leave amendment

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Fri, Apr 06, 2007 - Page 1

The Cabinet on Wednesday approved draft amendments to the Gender Equality Employment Law (兩性工作平等法) and the Employment Insurance Law (就業保險法) which would broaden the scope for employees to ask for leave without pay from their employers.

At present, only women who work for a company that hires 30 or more employees can ask for leave without pay if they need to take time off to take care of their children.

If the legislature approves the draft amendment, mothers or fathers, regardless of the size of the company they work for, would be entitled to ask for leave without pay to take care of their children.

The draft amendments also stipulate that employers must pay the employee a subsidy -- up to a maximum length of six months -- during the period they are on leave without pay.

The amount of the subsidy was calculated based on 50 percent of the average monthly salary of all laborers who participate in the labor insurance scheme, which is estimated to be NT$11,611.

"These amendments will benefit all working parents instead of just those mothers who work for large companies," Deputy Cabinet Spokesman William Yih (易榮宗) said.

The draft states that the subsidy would continue even after parents have returned to work following parental leave.

Those who return to work within two years and have then been working for six months would be entitled to a monthly subsidy of NT$2,902 when on unpaid leave -- or NT$17,412 in a six-month period. They can withdraw this amount in one lump sum payment, the draft says.

"Many working parents may simply quit their jobs after their parental leave finishes. We separated this subsidy from parental leave because we want to encourage parents to return to work," Yih said. "We also want to encourage more fathers to take care of their children, because it is not a `women only' job."

Yih cited Sweden's regulations as an example. He said working Swedes can ask for parental leave of up to 450 days. During that period, 80 percent of their monthly salary will be paid as a "parental benefit" during the first 360 days, and they are paid a flat-rate of 60 Swedish kronor (US$9) a day for the remaining 90 days, he said.

"Statistics show that more than 95 percent of Swedish parents ask for more than 390 days of parental leave," Yih said.

He said the amendments would help improve gender equality in Taiwan.