Mon, Apr 16, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Public school teachers protest new alimony law

UNFAIR:Having a pension plan does not mean a spouse is rich, the New Taipei City Education Union secretary-general said. Legislator Yu Mei-nu said such rules exist in Germany

By Ann Maxon  /  Staff reporter

Public school teachers protest legislation that provides pensions for divorced spouses of public school teachers and civil servants outside the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) central headquarters in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: CNA

A group of public school teachers yesterday protested outside the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) headquarters in Taipei against provisions in a law set to take effect in July that would allow public school teachers’ spouses without a pension plan to receive part of their pension after a divorce.

About 20 teachers called for the Act Governing Retirement, Severance, and Bereavement Compensation for the Teaching and Other Staff Members of Public Schools (公立學校教職員退休資遣撫卹條例) to be amended.

Until the law takes effect, pensions are not considered part of a married couple’s shared assets and do not have to be redistributed upon divorce.

However, the act stipulates that teachers’ spouses of more than two years who are not on a pension plan can claim part of a teacher’s pension in case of a divorce.

According to the enforcement rules announced in November last year, the amount that a former spouse can receive is calculated by multiplying the pension by the percentage of time that the marriage overlapped with the public school teacher’s career and then dividing it by two.

DPP Legislator Yu Mei-nu (尤美女) and the New Power Party caucus strongly advocated the legislation and described it as a progressive step toward gender equality, New Taipei City Education Union secretary-general Lee Man-li (李曼麗) said.

They overlooked the fact that 61 percent of public school teachers in Taiwan are women and many of them are also responsible for most chores at home, she said.

“Wouldn’t it be very unfair if they had to give part of their pension to an ex-husband who contributed very little?” She asked.

Whether a spouse is on a pension plan says nothing about their financial situation, Lee said, adding that many business owners, freelancers and lawyers do not have official pensions, but own considerable assets.

The government has already reduced civil servants and public-school teachers’ pensions, and now it even wants to allow cheating spouses to take from what is left, Taipei School Education Union president Lee Hui-lan (李惠蘭) said.

“Yu said that teachers can file a lawsuit if they do not agree with the percentage of pension their spouse are eligible for, but lawsuits are complex and stressful,” she said.

“First you need to collect evidence for the court. Then you also need a lot of money,” she said. “Every court session requires at least NT$60,000.”

Anyone who is going through a divorce is already under great emotional stress, she said.

As the ruling party and an important champion of the legislation, the DPP should amend the act to better protect the rights of career women who are also the homemakers of their families, Lee Man-li said.

In addition to public school teachers, civil servants who divorce after June 30 would also be subject to the rule.

Yu has said that the rules are intended to protect spouses who stay at home to care for families, as they might not be able to find a job after a divorce.

Such rules also exist in Japan and Germany, and the DPP would promote similar regulations in other sectors, Yu said.

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