Eight members of the Presidential Office’s Human Rights Consultative Committee yesterday cast doubt on newly passed amendments to the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法).
In an opinion piece published by the Chinese-language Apple Daily yesterday, the members said that the amendment process was rash and cursory; that the amended law’s contents violate the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR); and that it could lead to more overworked employees in Taiwan
The eight included Taiwan Labour Front secretary-general Sun Yu-lien (孫友聯), Executive Yuan Office of Energy and Carbon Reduction Deputy Executive Officer Lin Tze-luen (林子倫), and Taiwan Alliance for the Advancement of Youth Rights and Welfare secretary-general Yeh Ta-hua (葉大華).
The members called on the Ministry of Labor and government agencies that oversee the government’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the ICESCR to publish an official report on the amendment process.
According to Article 32-1 of the act, employers and employees should jointly decide the deadline for using up compensatory holidays requested instead of overtime pay. If an employee fails to use their holidays by the agreed deadline or by the time they leave the company, the compensatory days must be converted into overtime pay.
The item severely infringes on workers’ rights and if no clear regulations for limitation of compensatory days off are established, it could lead to workers being forced to work overtime during intensive periods and to take compensatory days off during off-seasons, the committee members said.
Workers could also be cheated out of their overtime pay, they added.
The amendments allow companies to increase their overtime quota and cut the rest time between shifts, which affects workers’ rights and violates guarantees of workers’ wages and vacation days as required by the ICESCR, they said.
The amendment also contravenes the government’s promises that it would see to the implementation of all rights as required under the two covenants and that workers’ rights would not regress, they added.
Executive Yuan spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said the amendments would not affect labor rights, while they do increase the room for flexible arrangements between employees and employers.
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