Tue, Nov 07, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Eleven hours rest best for health workers: minister

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Healthcare practitioners should rest for at least 11 hours before their next shift, excepting emergencies, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday, adding that the ministry would outline guidelines for the exceptions.

The announcement came as the Legislative Yuan is reviewing draft labor law amendments, which include proposals to loosen the “one fixed rest day every seven days” regulation, increase the maximum legal amount of overtime and decrease the required 11 hours of rest between shifts.

Responding to media reports that it supports at least eight hours of rest between shifts, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said it believes the current limit of 11 hours or more is more appropriate for healthcare practitioners.

Considering the high-risk and high-pressure nature of the job, practitioners should rest for at least that long to ensure the safety of themselves and their patients, the ministry said.

“We think having at least 11 hours of rest is more sufficient, especially because nursing is a labor-intensive and high-risk job,” Chen said yesterday at a meeting of the legislature’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee.

However, flexibility in emergency situations is also needed, such as when a large amount of patients require attention or when a department is short-staffed, he said, adding that the ministry would draw up exception guidelines for the Ministry of Labor.

KMT legislators Lee Yen-hsiu (李彥秀) and Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) urged the government to protect nursing practitioners’ labor conditions, as well as patients’ safety.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lin Shu-feng (林淑芬) said she worries that although the ministry claims to support at least 11 hours of rest, introducing guidelines for exceptions might lead to eight hours becoming the norm.

The ministry should consider increasing personnel in nursing departments, rather than allow exceptions, because it can lead to the exception becoming the rule, Chiang said.

Responding to a legislator’s inquiry about including resident physicians in the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法), Chen said that considering the amount of labor required at hospitals, the ministry would continue to discuss the issue with the Ministry of Labor.

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