Sun, Mar 10, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Businesses cool to new gender-equality law

THINK-TANK SURVEY The KMT's National Policy Foundation has found that most businesses believe the new rules designed to help women will give them a headache

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA

As the Gender Equality Labor Law (兩性工作平等法) went into effect on Friday, nearly 70 percent of Taiwan's businesses believe that the law will cause difficulties in terms of management, according to the results of a poll released yesterday.

The survey on the law's impact was conducted between Monday and Wednesday by the National Policy Foundation (國家政策研究基金會), a KMT think tank.

A large number of business executives and personnel managers were surveyed, with a total of 400 valid questionnaires collected. The survey is said to have a margin of error of 5 percent.

The survey showed that about half of business executives and managers are familiar with the regulations contained within the law.

Of those polled who are aware of the regulations, 67 percent said they think the law will cause difficulties in managing -- especially the rule allowing female employees to take a day off once a month for discomfort due to menstruation, as well as the rule allowing them to take an unpaid maternity leave of up to two years.

Hiring practices

About 68 percent of those surveyed said that they would not cut the number of women they employ. Some 32 percent, however, admitted that they would hire fewer women because of possible increased personnel costs and the chance that female workers who take a long leave may not be able to keep abreast of the latest job skills.

Analysis of the poll results revealed that businesses which now have a significantly high number of female employees are less likely to hire fewer women with the implementation of the law, while those which now have fewer female employees tend to think the law will cause difficulties.

"Since the law was drafted some 10 years ago, it may be unrealistic in some way," said Chan Hou-sheng (詹火生), former chairman of the Council of Labor Affairs, suggesting that constant amendments are necessary in order for the law to keep up with the times.

Pragmatic approach

The survey results suggest that businesses want the government to implement the law in a pragmatic, gradual and flexible manner, while at the same time stepping up its gender-equality campaign and increasing communication with businesses.

The results also suggest that the government should take more responsibility for providing a sound social-welfare system and raising the participation rate of women in the labor market.

Women in Taiwan made up 46.1 percent of the labor market last year, up slightly over the previous year's level but still low compared with most industrialized nations.

Women made up 60.2 percent of the labor market in the US last year, 58.9 percent in Canada, 54.5 percent in Britain and 49.3 percent in Japan.

Women between 25 and 29 years of age showed the highest participation rate in the labor market among all Taiwanese women at 71.2 percent.

The rate was 64.2 percent for the 30-to-34 age group, and decreased for older age groups, mainly due to women choosing to stay at home to care for their children. The percentage of women who went back to work after marriage or childbirth was also much lower than the figure in other industrialized countries.

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