Fri, Dec 01, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Lai sparks debate on commute time

REST TIME:Defending the premier, the Cabinet spokesman said the proposed labor revisions would increase rest time between shifts to 11 hours from the current eight

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

Premier William Lai, left, smiles yesterday at the National Taiwan University Hospital International Convention Center in Taipei, where he met with Democratic Progressive Party lawmakers to discuss a draft amendment to the Labor Standards Act.

Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times

Amid debates about the Cabinet’s latest draft amendment to the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法), Premier William Lai (賴清德) has prompted controversy with his comment ruling out commute time as work.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬) challenged Lai during a meeting with party lawmakers on Wednesday over the amendment’s proposal to allow some businesses to lower the minimum rest time between shifts from 11 hours to eight, the Chinese-language Apple Daily reported.

Lin said that workers would not be able to get a proper break, as the eight hours also include commuting and meal time.

Lai reportedly told Lin that travel time and meal time are not work and that her criticism of the proposed amendment was based on nontypical working conditions, the report said, adding that Lai asked her not to openly criticize government officials longer than is needed.

Lai’s comments have prompted some criticism, as the act stipulates that injuries sustained during commute are defined as injuries on duty, although commute time is not part of work hours.

Executive Yuan spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) yesterday said that the recognition of injuries caused by commuting accidents as injuries on duty does not qualify commute time as work hours.

Defending the proposed rest time regulations, Hsu said that the current legal rest time between shifts is eight hours, which the amendment would raise to 11 hours, but allow some flexibility for industries that have difficulty adjusting.

Lai did not ask Lin not to criticize officials, but only for her understanding of Minister of Labor Lin Mei-chu (林美珠), who recently had surgery, Hsu said.

While some have blamed the act for businesses’ breaches of overtime pay rules, Hsu said it is an issue of law enforcement and not the law itself, adding that law enforcement should be strict, but flexibility should be allowed for by the law.

Lai yesterday met with another group of DPP lawmakers, who asked the Cabinet to ensure the principles of a minimum of one day off every week and a minimum 11-hour rest between shifts.

DPP Legislator Wang Ding-yu (王定宇) said he proposed that the two principles should be written in the amendment, which should also clearly describe conditions for exceptions, such as listing the industries that can be exempted from the two principles.

Lai agreed that the two principles should be ensured, although he did not comment on the proposal, Wang said.

The DPP caucus has decided that the Cabinet’s amendment, as well as other amendments proposed by lawmakers, should pass a preliminary legislative committee review next week, Wang added.

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