Tue, Aug 30, 2011 - Page 3 News List

Ma promises change after complaints

DAY OFF:Angry parents wrote to the president asking who would take care of their children when a typhoon day is declared for students, but not for office workers

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff Reporter

A young child sleeps on a mat at a high school in Laiyi Township, Pingtung County, after being evacuated as Typhoon Nanmadol hit southern Taiwan yesterday.

Photo: Sam Yeh, AFP

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday promised to revise laws governing typhoon days after messages from angry parents flooded his Facebook page starting late on Sunday following a decision by 13 county and city governments to declare yesterday a typhoon day for schools, but not for offices.

“Can we take the day off when our children have [a typhoon day] off? Otherwise who will take care of kids in families in which both parents are working?” Facebook user Chuang Yu-shan (莊榆姍) asked in a message left on Ma’s Facebook page.

Another Facebook user, Lin Ping-chen (林秉蓁), said that as a teacher in a daycare center, it would be odd to have to work as usual while parents are told not to send their children to schools.

“So in the daycare center, there would be teachers but no students, while parents are worried about where to send their kids,” Lin said.

Liao Shih-hung (廖世鴻) called on the government to provide free daycare service.

“My friends, let’s get up early and send our kids to the Presidential Office or local government headquarters and ask them to take care of our children so we can go to work,” Liao wrote. “Governments should provide childcare service when it’s a typhoon day for children, but not for parents.”

Commenting on the situation, the Ministry of the Interior’s Child Welfare Bureau Director-General Chang Hsiu-yuan (張秀鴛) said parents with children under the age of six could take a paid day off if it has been declared a typhoon day for children, because according to the Children and Juveniles Welfare Act (兒童及少年福利法), children under the age of six cannot be left home alone.

“Unfortunately, the rule does not apply to parents with kids above the age of six, but as the head of the Child Welfare Bureau, I would be happy to see an extension of the rule’s application,” Chang told the Taipei Times by telephone.

Facebook messages from angry parents triggered a quick response from the president.

“A lot of parents have left messages on my Facebook page, complaining that many cities and counties have declared a typhoon day for schools, but not for offices,” Ma wrote in the afternoon.

“Early today [yesterday], I discussed the issue with Premier Wu Den-yih [吳敦義] and other ministers, and we have decided to propose a paid ‘typhoon day’ for people with children, so that in areas where a typhoon day is declared for schools, but not for offices, parents can also have the day off to take care of their children without affecting their work record,” Ma wrote.

Ma said the impact would be too big if a typhoon day were declared for both schools and offices when it is unnecessary to do so, but allowing parents to take the day off was better for both parents and employers.

“I have already asked the Council of Labor Affairs to start looking into possible revisions to legislation,” he said.

The Central Personnel Administration announced in the afternoon that all government employees with children in junior high school or below could take a paid day of leave without affecting their paid personal leave days if it has been declared a typhoon day for school, but not offices.

Before the announcement, only in a family where both parents are public servants could one parent take a paid typhoon day without it being counted as paid personal leave.

If a public servant’s spouse is not a government employee, the public servant could also take a paid typhoon day off. However, the typhoon day would be counted as paid personal leave.

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