Mon, Dec 29, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Activists scoff at ministry’s plan for caretaker vacations

By Lii Wen  /  Staff reporter

Labor activists yesterday expressed skepticism about a Ministry of Labor plan intended to better protect the vacation rights of foreign caretakers.

On Saturday, the ministry said that it planned to allow families who employ foreign caretakers to apply for respite care services — short-term assistance from public sector or nonprofit caretakers to care for elderly or ailing family members.

By allowing families with foreign caretakers — who mostly come from Southeast Asian nations — to apply for respite care for 14 to 21 days a year, the ministry said the plan would ease foreign caretakers’ workloads.

A survey published by the ministry on Friday found that more than 70 percent of foreign caretakers in Taiwanese households receive no vacations or days off, while the remaining 30 percent receive an average of 1.1 days off per month.

However, labor activists said they were skeptical, saying that the plan failed to address a number of fundamental problems.

Labor activist Chen Hsiu-lian (陳秀蓮), a member of the Taiwan International Workers Association, said that the plan would do little to guarantee days off for foreign caretakers, as employers would not be legally obligated to provide time off.

Chen said that the ministry should work toward establishing regulations that ensure foreign caretakers get at least one day off every week, instead of expecting employers to apply for respite care services on their own.

“We are not sure what the ministry wants: respite for employers or respite for the migrant workers,” Chen said, adding that without legal protection of vacation rights, the plan might just be a way for employers to take advantage of public resources.

She added that an income cap should be observed for applicants for respite care services, as wealthy families should be able to afford the services of part-time Taiwanese caretakers on their own — therefore allowing foreign caretakers to rest.

Currently, household caretakers in Taiwan — domestic and foreign — are not covered under the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法), which stipulates a maximum of 84 work hours per two weeks.

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