Sun, Nov 06, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Special act to address foreigners’ concerns

Staff writer, with CNA

The government has drafted a special act in a bid to resolve some of the problems facing foreign workers, which range from insurance and pensions to the residence status of their children, a Cabinet official said on Friday.

The draft act is to be unveiled for public discussion by the end of the year at the earliest, but it would not be submitted to the legislature before the Executive Yuan reaches a consensus over the proposals with the public, National Development Council Minister Chen Tain-jy (陳添枝) said.

Chen was speaking at a news conference called by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, at which it presented its annual white paper of suggestions for the government.

One of the chamber’s proposals was that the government ease restrictions on family members of foreign workers, allowing them to receive National Health Insurance coverage.

Asked about residence-related challenges facing foreigners, Chen said that foreign workers encounter numerous problems.

Among them is the inability of their children to remain in the nation and obtain work permits, and that foreign parents are not able to apply for National Health Insurance coverage for their babies for the first six months after they are born, he said.

The Executive Yuan wants a comprehensive solution to these problems, but the difficulty is that the problems — from exit and entry management, the working environment and insurance to pensions — involve a variety of laws and regulations, he said.

“It would be too complicated if we tried to revise the laws,” so the government has decided to draft a special act to fulfill its objectives, Chen said. “The part concerning high-ranking professional technicians is to be handled first.”

The issue received popular attention after Ralph Jensen, a German software engineer who has worked in Kaohsiung since 1998, sent a letter to the Taipei Times (Letters, Oct. 17, page 6) about the problems families of foreign professionals face.

“Over time — and many identical cases exist involving foreign talent — problems arise from that while my APRC [Alien Permanent Resident Certificate] comes with an open work permit, no member of my family is allowed to work, not even part-time,” Jensen wrote.

“Two of my children have left Taiwan even though they love the nation and identify with it. An especially dramatic situation exists with my two sons who were born in Taiwan and still live here. Imagine the situation of a child, a Taiwanese, raised here, speaking fluent Mandarin — better than any other language — and who has no foundation in the home nation of his parents, which by the government is still considered his ‘country of origin.’ As he grows up, completely integrated with schoolmates and Taiwanese friends, he is not allowed to take a part-time job like all his friends once he turns 16. He is not allowed to take part in national competitions. He cannot attend certain vocational schools, because part of the curriculum is field work for associated companies, for which he would need a work permit. This he will not receive without a three-year university degree in a technical field that is considered relevant by the Ministry of Labor Affairs,” he wrote.

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