Thu, Apr 16, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Wealth cap on hiring difficult to implement: ministry

By Lii Wen  /  Staff reporter

The Ministry of Labor yesterday expressed its misgivings about a lawmaker’s proposal to impose a “wealth cap” that would ban affluent households from employing foreign caregivers, saying it raises concerns about differential treatment and would be difficult to implement.

During a meeting of the legislature’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee on Monday, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Chieh-ju (陳節如) said that wealthy families should be able to afford the services of Taiwanese caregivers.

She proposed that the ministry conduct an evaluation and consider introducing legislation that would prohibit rich households from hiring foreign caregivers.

The committee voted in favor of Chen’s motion, demanding that the ministry complete its evaluation within a month.

While foreign caregivers typically earn a monthly wage of NT$15,840, Taiwanese caregivers usually charge about NT$60,000 per month for around-the-clock personal care for elderly or disabled patients.

The issue has drawn wide public attention after several members of a group who toured a restricted military base with Apache helicopters last month were suspected of illegally employing more than one foreign caregiver.

Controversy over the tour escalated after investigators revealed that several foreign nationals were included in the tour group, including at least four caregivers.

The tour raised concerns about abuse of privilege, as its members included showbiz personality Janet Lee (李蒨蓉) as well as several businesspeople, leading media commentators to brand the group a “socialite’s club.”

Seven Taiwanese in the group are under investigation, after being suspected of illegally employing foreign caregivers through dubious channels and assigning work to caregivers outside of their original contract, such as childcare or household chores.

Chen said the Apache controversy showed a tendency among the “privileged rich” to misuse the services of foreign caregivers.

Workforce Development Agency Director Lai Jia-jen (賴家仁) yesterday said the ministry would conduct an evaluation as requested, but the proposal raises several issues that are difficult to resolve.

A wealth cap might raise concerns about “differential treatment” in applying for foreign caregivers, he said.

“We must consider if [the proposal] is in accordance with fairness and justice,” he said.

He added that the ministry might encounter difficulties in implementing the measure, such as whether the measurement of wealth should be based on personal income or household income.

“In terms of implementation, the proposal would be extremely difficult,” Lai said.

“It would be very easy to evade the measure” even if it were implemented,” he said.

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