Social work organizations should not be granted special exceptions to overtime rules; instead the government should provide additional subsidies to help cover the costs of complying with the new labor regulations, social work advocates said.
“All we want is reasonable working hours and enough rest time to enable us to provide good service. If you really want to put case subjects first, you should not be serving them with overworked people,” former child resettlement worker Chen Hsin-han (陳欣涵) said on Thursday, calling on the government to hold firm on absolute upper limits on working hours in face of widespread violations.
He criticized Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wu Yu-chin (吳玉琴), a former secretary-general of the Foundation for the Welfare of the Elderly, for calling for more flexibility in overtime restrictions for social work groups to allow for special cases.
Employees of such groups often work 16-to-24-hour days, far above the 12-hour legal limit, he said.
New Taipei City Social Workers’ Union president Lin Tsung-han (林宗翰) said that many social work openings take half a year to fill because of poor working conditions and low salaries, which are often just NT$25,000 per month.
“The reason many people are unwilling to join is that there are many, many challenges, including long hours, night shifts, separation from one’s own family and having to face the dangers and risks of violence in resettling people — and in return all you get is a meager salary,” he said.
Taichung Social Welfare Labor Plight Alliance member Liu Pei-chun (劉姵君) said it was difficult to hold formal labor-management conferences at social work organizations because management tended to view them simply as a rubber stamp and discouraged workers from expressing their true views.
Labor representatives should be invited to an advisory meeting the Ministry of Labor has said it will call in response to Wu’s proposal, Liu said.
Calling for budget increases, Taipei Social Workers’ Union president Shen Yao-yi (沈曜逸) said chronically inadequate government funding is the major reason social work organizations pressure employees to put in overtime.
“If it takes about NT$40,000 a month to care for a child, the government only subsidizes NT$16,000, and organizations have to make up for the rest either by cutting costs or by exploiting their employees,” he said, citing overtime pay, labor insurance and national health insurance as examples of expenses not covered by government subsidies.