Thu, Mar 07, 2002 - Page 4 News List

Women welcome new gender law

LABOR ISSUES The new law explicitly outlaws certain practices, such as hiring only unmarried employees or firing female employees who marry or become pregnant

By Elise Hu  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

DPP legislator Wang Hsueh-fung, left, Council for Hakka Affairs Chairwoman Yeh Chu-lan, second left, Council of Labor Affairs Chairwoman Chen Chu, third left, Minister of the Interior Yu Cheng-hsien, center, lawyer Jennifer Wang, second right and long-time women's rights activist Yu Mei-nu, right, celebrate the new gender equality law yesterday.

PHOTO: CHU YU-PIN, TAIPEI TIMESN

The chairwoman of the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) said yesterday that the council expects the Gender Equality Labor Law (兩性工作平等法) to reduce much of the work-related stress affecting women at work.

The law takes effect on National Women's Day tomorrow.

"We are pushing for many more specific provisions," said CAL Chairwoman Chen Chu, (陳菊). "As for the provisions taking effect March 8, we expect women to have many of their work-related stresses reduced."

Other CLA officials said women will benefit specifically from the law's provisions mandating employers take action against sexual harassment, allowing up to two years paid maternity leave and requiring equal pay for equal work.

The legislation applies to the public and private sectors.

Over 10 million people are expected to benefit.

The new law explicitly outlaws certain practices, such as the hiring only unmarried employees and the firing of female employees who marry or become pregnant.

It imposes fines of up to NT$100,000 on companies which violate the principle of equal pay for equal work.

The law requires companies to enact measures against sexual harassment in the workplace and fines will be levied against those which fail to do so.

The law will prohibit the creation of a "hostile sexual environment," which it defines as a "hostile, intimidating and offensive work environment created by any person who uses speech or behavior that amounts to a request for sexual favors, is of a sexual nature or shows gender discrimination, thereby infringing upon or interfering with the dignity, personal freedom, or work performance of the individual."

The CLA has set up a phone hotline and an interactive Web site for women to report instances of sexual harassment.

"We hope the hotline and Web site will be well utilized by women in need of assistance," Chu said.

Also beginning on Friday, women will be entitled to one day's leave per month for discomfort associated with their menstrual cycle, to be taken as sick leave.

The CLA recently established a Commission for Gender Equality in the Workplace and is preparing related secondary legislation, which, among other things, would introduce government-subsidized day-care for the children of working mothers.

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