Sat, Nov 25, 2006 - Page 2 News List

CLA to draw up new regulations

INELIGIBLE Despite an appeal by human rights and worker rights advocacy groups, it was decided to exclude foreign maids and caregivers from the Labor Standards Act

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA

The Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) will study how to offer legal protection for household service providers, as bringing them under the umbrella of the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) is not technically feasible, a senior official said yesterday.

Lan Fu-liang (藍福良), director of the CLA's Department of Labor Standards, made the remarks a day after the council held a meeting to discuss whether to include foreign household service providers, including maids and caregivers, under the Act's protection.

During the meeting, representatives of human rights and worker rights advocacy groups, such as the Taiwan chapter of the International Workers Association (IWA), pushed for the Act to include coverage for foreign maids and caregivers.

Claiming that foreign maids and caregivers frequently work overtime and that some are maltreated, the IWA representatives said foreign household service providers deserve the same respect and legal protection as those working in other professions.

Their appeal, however, ran into opposition from representatives of the League of Welfare Organizations for the Disabled (LWOD), who said if foreign caregivers and maids were to be offered protection under the Act, it would be tantamount to "adding insult to injury" to people with physical or mental disabilities.

According to LWOD representatives, about one-third of families with disabled members hire foreign maids or caregivers because they are unable to afford the wages demanded by local workers.

If foreign household service providers are eligible for the Act's protection, without effective complementary measures, the LWOD representatives said that many of those families would face financial difficulties.

Analyzing the pros and cons, Lan said, the CLA has tentatively concluded that it would be unrealistic to implement the proposal of offering the Act's protection for foreign maids and caregivers at present. "A hasty decision would only invite more protests and controversies," he said.

As the legitimate rights of foreign maids and caregivers need to be respected and protected, Lan said, the CLA has to flesh out a set of protective measures that can safeguard the interests of both employers and employees.

"The CLA will endeavor to draw up feasible regulations to ensure reasonable working conditions and standards for household service providers while avoiding increasing the financial burden for employers too much," he said.

It may take some time before the new package of rules can be thrashed out, Lan said, adding that the CLA will maintain communication with all relevant groups and units in the process of drafting the new plan.

Lan said the planned new legal protective measures would be applied to both native and foreign household service providers.

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