Thu, Jan 01, 2009 - Page 2 News List

About 200,000 workers on unpaid leave

By Shelley Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

After several weeks of criticism for its handling of companies forcing workers to take unpaid leave, the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) announced yesterday it had obtained figures on the severity of the forced-leave situation.

About 200,000 people are currently on unpaid leave, council minister Jennifer Wang (王如玄) told reporters.

The average worker on unpaid leave is taking four to five days off a month and the practice is predominantly seen in the manufacturing sector, she said.

Wang said she understood the plight of workers who have been ordered to take unpaid leave and promised that the council would act in their best interest.

Wang made the comments at yesterday’s ceremony to officially welcome the entry into force of the new Labor Insurance Annuity scheme.

The ceremony was attended by many government officials and lawmakers, including President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), Premier Liu Chao-hsiuan (劉兆玄) and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平).

Jennifer Wang said that the new scheme was expected to immediately benefit 2 million workers.

The scheme, similar to a social security program, was passed by the legislature on July 17. Individuals who have never participated in the labor insurance program until the new program was introduced — such as recent graduates starting their first jobs — are only entitled to monthly pensions after retirement rather than having the option of collecting a one-time pension payment, as was possible under the previous scheme.

Laws and regulations that are effective this month

Jan. 1:

People aged 60 and over who have worked for 15 years can apply for the Labor Insurance Annuity (勞保年金). Details available at www.bli.gov.tw.

Tickets for the Taiwan Railway Administration purchased online must be picked up within two days of purchase. The deadline for ticket pick-ups is 11pm.

Thirteen types of operation, treatment and examination will be covered by the National Health Insurance Program, including pancreas transplant, ultrasonic reflectoscope on the coronary artery and target therapy for cervical cancer.

Jan. 6:

A new electronic toll collection lane will be opened at the Shulin Toll Station on National Freeway No. 3.

Jan. 11:

The new Tobacco Hazard Prevention Act (菸害防制法) takes effect. The policy will ban smoking at indoor facilities designed for more than three people, such as government organizations, hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, Internet cafes or Karaoke bars. Locations equipped with indoor smoking rooms that have independent air conditioning and bars that open after 9pm and forbid the entry of people under the age of 18 will be exempt.

School campuses, stadiums, or any public outdoor venue frequently visited by children and teenagers will have to abide by the policy.

It will also be illegal to smoke at bus stops, on platforms or at any other waiting areas. Business owners must display no-smoking signs and are not allowed to provide customers with cigarettes or any other equipment for smoking. Infractions will result in fines of between NT$10,000 and NT$50,000. Individuals found smoking in smoke-free facilities will be fined between NT$2,000 and NT$10,000.

Convenience stores must not encourage the purchase of cigarettes in any form, including using advertisement posters, electronic panels, animation, bonus points or any discount program, placing more than one box of cigarettes on the counter, selling candies, snacks, or toys in the form of cigarettes.

Jan. 29

People selling uncertified organic food can be fined as much as NT$300,000, while selling fake organic food can result in fines of up to NT$1 million (US$30,000).

Also this year,

More than 3.6 million people will pay between NT$3,000 and NT$50,000 less in tax as more deductibles will apply in May this year.


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