Sun, Jun 12, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Activists slam ‘rest time’ abuses

‘GREEDY’ BOSSES:Some employers seek to work around minimum wage restrictions by allotting six minutes of ‘rest’ into every hour to justify a 10% wage cut, activists said

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Employers should be banned from splitting their employees’ “rest time” by the hour, labor activists said yesterday, as the Ministry of Labor promised to step up inspections and crack down on rest time splitting abuses.

“Some employers are greedy and twist provisions of the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) to cut workers’ salaries by adding their ‘rest time’ into their ‘work time’ and then cutting wages,” Taiwan Labor Front secretary-general Son Yu-liam (孫友聯) said. “The Ministry of Labor should enforce the act to forbid employers from splitting rest time by the hour because there is no way you can really ‘rest’ in just six minutes.”

Some flexibility in apportioning rest time over periods of two or more hours would be justifiable for certain industries such as manufacturing, he said, adding that the ministry should step up inspections to guarantee apportionment arrangements are reasonable.

Under the Labor Standards Act, employers are required to give employees 30 minutes of unpaid rest time for every four hours of work, while allowing flexibility in how the time is distributed.

Activists said that some employers seek to work around minimum wage restrictions by allotting six minutes of “rest” into every hour to justify a 10 percent wage cut, reflecting widespread “corner-cutting” in the benefits of hourly workers.

Hsieh Chien-chien (謝倩蒨), director-general of the ministry’s Department of Labor Standards and Equal Employment, said the ministry plans to increase inspections for part-time workers, while considering clarifying amendments to the Labor Standards Act to spell out part-time workers’ rights.

A 2014 ministry survey found that 7.6 percent of part-time workers worked more than 40 hours per week, even though the hourly minimum wage is proportionally higher than the minimum wage for monthly salaried workers, she said.

“This might be because employers do not understand the rules and believe that part-time workers are not entitled to benefits such as days off, which regular workers enjoy,” she said, adding that part-time workers are entitled to proportionally identical benefits under the ministry’s regulations.

The proportion of part-time workers working more than 40 hours per week might also reflect some workers running up overtime during temporary peak periods, she said.

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