New rules on foreign workers agreed

OVERSEAS INFLUX::The proposal would push up the number of foreign workers employed in Taiwan to more than 520,000, from the current record high of 440,000

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 - Page 1

The wrangling between economy-related government agencies and the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) over a relaxation of the rules governing the recruitment of foreign workers has finally been settled, with a proposed plan expected to see an influx of 80,000 extra foreign workers as an incentive to attract new investors to Taiwan, government officials said last night.

Lin San-quei (林三貴), director-general of the council’s Bureau of Employment and Vocational Training, said last night that the proposal was also expected to create 120,000 job opportunities for Taiwanese workers.

“What we are aiming to do is to capitalize on the recruitment of foreign workers to increase employment for local workers and to enhance the nation’s competitiveness,” Lin said.

The relaxation of the quota would push up the number of foreign workers employed in Taiwan to more than 520,000, from the current record high of 440,000.

Ministers without portfolio Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔) and James Hsueh (薛承泰) called a meeting to discuss the proposal which was attended by officials from the CLA, the Council for Economic Planning and Development and the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Taiwan uses a five-tier system to regulate the permitted ratio of foreign workers in an enterprise’s total workforce in different industrial sectors, ranging from 10 percent to 35 percent.

Under the new proposal, China-based Taiwanese businesspeople who relocate their businesses to Taiwan and meet certain investment criteria would be allowed to recruit 15 percent to 20 percent more foreign workers.

For other investors, enterprises that establish a factory in the country would be allowed to recruit an additional 5 percent to 10 percent of their total workforce from overseas.

The maximum number of foreign workers in a company’s workforce is set at 40 percent.

Hsueh said the proposal, pending the approval of Premier Sean Chen (陳冲), would take effect on Nov. 1.

Potential investors have to apply to invest in Taiwan before the end of 2014 to take advantage of the new regulations, Hsueh said.

Currently, companies are required to pay NT$2,000 a month to the Employment Stabilization Fund (ESF) for each foreign worker they employ.

For investors covered by the new policy, in the first three to five years after the investment is made, the ESF fee for each foreign worker will remain at NT$2,000, while the fee rises to NT$3,000 per worker for enterprises granted an extra 5 percent of foreign workers, to NT$5,000 per worker for those with an extra 10 percent and to NT$7,000 per worker for enterprises with an extra 15 percent or more.