New Power Party Legislator Hung Tzu-yung (洪慈庸) yesterday asked the Ministry of Labor whether it was capable of detecting seemingly obvious illegal working conditions for nurses at New Taipei City’s Far Eastern Memorial Hospital.
A netizen claiming to be a nurse at the hospital recently said that nurses at the hospital are forced to comply with illegal conditions.
At the Legislative Yuan yesterday morning, Hung said after learning about the conditions regarding “negative duty hours” and “repaying the hospital for taking days off” that nurses face, she asked the ministry on June 20 to conduct an ad hoc labor inspection of the hospital.
Hung showed a letter that she said proved that complaints about the labor conditions are true.
According to Hung, the letter said hospital superintendent Lin Fang-yue (林芳郁) on June 26 told staff that the “negative duty hours” and “repaying salary for taking day off” are problems that have been part of the system for years, but the hospital has a schedule to gradually eliminate them.
The New Taipei City Department of Labor Affairs has made 13 inspections at the hospital in the past three years, but detected no illegal conditions, Hung said.
“The negative duty hours should not be a difficult problem to find, so do labor inspectors lack experience, or are they hiding something?” she said.
The ministry should explain why it has not inspected the hospital or imposed penalties on it, she said.
Taiwan Medical Alliance for Labor Justice deputy director-general Lin Ping-hung (林秉鴻) said the alliance has received several reports of similar conditions, with some nurses reporting that the “one fixed day off, one flexible rest day” labor regulations made conditions worse.
Sometimes when nurses arrive at work, they are asked to leave and take the day off because there are not enough patients for them to take care of, and if they do not have annual leave to use, the hospital makes them forfeit salary for the forced day off, Lin Ping-hung said.
In addition, “negative duty hours” can be used for overtime, but nurses do not get extra overtime pay for working on weekends or holidays, while they are often asked to be on standby, which are not considered work hours, he said.
Ministry of Labor official Liu Yue-Se (劉約瑟) said that the New Taipei City Department of Labor Affairs had conducted an inspection of 10 hospitals in the city, including Far Eastern Memorial, and it would make the results public soon.
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