The Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) hopes to lower the unemployment rate to below 4 percent and raise the minimum hourly wage by the end of this year, Council of Labor Affairs Minister Jennifer Wang (王如玄) said yesterday.
“Overall economic conditions and the job market at present are slightly better than what we had anticipated,” Wang said at a press conference to announce the council’s targets for this year.
Wang attributed the better-than-expected economy and job market to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan on March 11 last year, massive flooding in Thailand late last year and persistent wage hikes in China — all of which have led companies to shift orders to Taiwan.
The council’s main goal will be to further lower the country’s unemployment rate, which fell to 4.18 percent in December, the lowest since August 2008, just before the onset of the global financial crisis.
The council will also consider increasing the minimum hourly wage from NT$103 to NT$115 in the third quarter, with the wage hike likely to take effect by Jan. 1 next year, Wang said.
To prevent employers from using the monthly minimum wage — currently NT$18,780 — to calculate employee pay after the hike in the hourly wage, Wang said the council would consider requiring companies to apply the hourly wage to employees who work fewer than 30 hours a week.
Another top agency priority will be to launch the largest-ever inspection into the work conditions of temporary workers contracted out by manpower agencies to ensure that these workers are well-treated, Wang said.
In addition, the CLA will push for laws that require companies to report the number of workers on furlough or face fines, she said.
The agency will also give more assistance to the increasing number of Taiwanese workers working abroad, such as providing information about labor laws in different countries on the CLA Web site, or cooperating with foreign affairs officers to assist them, Wang said.
The council’s other major initiative will be to continue to push to amend laws such as the Labor Safety and Health Act (勞工安全衛生法) and the Protection for Workers Incurring Occupational Accidents Act (職業災害勞工保護法) to step up labor safety and protection, the minister said.