Fri, Jan 12, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Leave not to substitute for pay: Cabinet

ADDENDUM:A KMT proposal that workers receive compensatory leave in excess of the overtime they worked was watered down to make it cheaper than paying them

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

In defense of the newly amended Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法), the Cabinet yesterday said that a controversial amendment allowing employers to offer compensatory leave in lieu of overtime pay would not deprive employees of their right to overtime pay, while Premier William Lai (賴清德) praised Minister of Labor Lin Mei-chu (林美珠) for her help in passing the legislation.

The Legislative Yuan on Wednesday approved a set of amendments that allow businesses to raise the maximum number of consecutive working days from six to 12; conditionally lower the rest time between shifts from the normally mandated 11 hours to eight hours; and raise the limit on monthly overtime hours from 46 to 54.

Article 32-1, a new addendum, allows employees who have worked overtime to receive compensatory leave in lieu of overtime pay, with the length of leave equal to the number of hours worked in overtime.

However, the amendments require that employers pay between 1.33 times and 2.66 times a worker’s normal hourly wage for overtime — with the exact rate depending on the number of overtime hours and whether it is on a weekday or on their flexible days-off.

The addendum has come under fire from critics who said the calculation of compensatory leave hours is not in line with the act’s calculation of overtime pay and could be used by employers to exploit workers.

The Cabinet yesterday defended the legislation, saying that the criticism was based on an inaccurate interpretation of the act.

Deputy Minister of Labor Shih Keh-her (施克和) said it is the right of employees, not employers, to demand compensatory leave, and employers are prohibited from forcing employees to accept compensatory leave in lieu of overtime pay.

“While employees can request compensatory leave, employers cannot ask employees to accept compensatory leave instead of overtime pay. Employers doing so are in breach of the act and would be subject to a maximum fine of NT$1 million (US$33,778),” Shih said.

The addendum was proposed by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus and the amendments would not cause working conditions to deteriorate, Cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said.

As KMT Legislator Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) proposed it on Monday, the addendum required that employers offer extra hours of compensatory leave for every hour worked to ensure it was in proportion to the overtime rates stipulated in the act, but the article was later modified in the course of negotiations.

The Ministry of Labor is to “imminently” announce which industries are allowed to raise the maximum number of consecutive working days and lower the minimum rest time between shifts, Shih said, adding he hoped that it would do so before March 1, when the new amendments are to take effect.

During the Cabinet meeting, Lai commended Lin for “showing the courage and determination of a politically appointed official” to push through the legislation in the face of mounting criticism.

Lai’s praise for Lin’s efforts followed reports that the relationship between the two has turned sour.

Lai urged solidarity between businesses and workers and reassured the public that the government would work to revive the economy and fight wage stagnation.

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