Tue, May 09, 2006 - Page 2 News List

CLA proposes NT$2.84 billion fund for new mothers

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) Minister Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) yesterday said the council is proposing to compensate women on maternity leave.

The council plans to provide women with up to 50 percent of their normal monthly salary up to NT$13,500 (US$422) for a maximum period of approximately six months.

Lee said the council plans to budget NT$2.84 billion (US$90 million) to fund the policy, which will be taken from the the labor insurance job security fund.

The announcement was made during a preparation meeting for a two-day economic development seminar which is scheduled for next month.

Lee said that Taiwan has a lower percentage of females in the workforce compared with a number of other countries. For example, in 2004, while women accounted for 73.3 percent of the overall workforce in the US and 73.4 percent of the workforce in Japan, they only accounted for 47.7 percent of the workforce in Taiwan.

Lee said that several factors may be behind this phenomenon. Employed women in Taiwan are in general paid less and given lower positions in comparison with men. Also, women are still overwhelmingly responsible for caring for children, which further prevented them from entering or re-entering the workforce.

The Gender Equality in Employment Law (兩性工作平等法) dictates that women are entitled to ask for maternity leave for a maximum of two years.

While their jobs are kept during their absence, women are left with no income during this period of time.

The compensation proposal will be submitted to the Executive Yuan for further consideration.

Last month, lawmakers and women's issues advocates criticized council officials in a public hearing, saying they were inefficient in delivering details on the exact amount of subsidies for women on maternity leave four years after the law had been implemented.

When asked why it took so long for the department to come up with a preliminary proposal, CLA representative Chen Huei-lin (陳慧玲) said that the proposal "needs further research and deliberation on the ground that it affects the national social welfare system."

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