Taipei City’s Department of Labor Affairs yesterday fined Taipei Japanese School NT$200,000 for discrimination against two pregnant teachers and urged all employers to respect the rights of employees to maternity leave as stipulated in the Gender Employment Equality Act (性別工作平等法).
The school discontinued the contract of a pregnant teacher in March and changed the contract of another pregnant teacher from full-time to part-time, while refusing the teachers’ request for maternity leave, claiming that there was no maternity leave mechanism in the country and that part-time workers did not qualify for the benefit.
Department of Labor Affairs Commissioner Chen Yeh-shin (陳業鑫) said the school blamed the layoff and contract change on their poor teaching performance, but work performance appraisals on the two teachers suggested otherwise.
“The school failed to present evidence to prove its claims of poor teaching and it was the consensus of the city’s gender employment equality committee that the school was involved in discrimination, severely abusing the rights of female employees,” Chen said.
Lin, the 36-year-old Chinese teacher whose contract was terminated by the school, criticized the school for challenging her commitment to her work after she fell pregnant last year.
The school originally asked her to become a part-time teacher, then later unilaterally terminated her contract.
Lin said soon after she got pregnant last year, the superintendent claimed that the school was afraid that she and another teacher would ignore their work duties and focus their efforts on taking care of their newborns and families.
The superintendent then asked them to either accept the school’s arrangement to become part-time teachers with lower salaries or to leave, Lin said.
“He said many people were lining up to take my job ... The school teaches human rights, but I don’t think it set a good example for students with what it did to us,” she said.
The school’s administrative division yesterday said it had no comment on the punishment. Asked whether it would file an administrative lawsuit against the department, the division said it was still examining the case.
Huang Ai-chen (黃愛真), a division chief at the labor affairs department, said that as foreign workers, teachers at private schools are not protected by the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法), but all employees, including part-time and contract workers, are eligible for maternity leave and parental leave under the Gender Employment Equality Act.
Discrimination against pregnant women accounted for the largest number of complaints received by the department in relation to violation of the Gender Employment Equality Act since the law was introduced in 2002, she said.
Violators face a fine of between NT$100,000 and NT$500,000.