The Executive Yuan yesterday approved a draft labor deliberations bill, which aims to establish labor courts at all levels of the justice system to ensure fair adjudication on labor rights issues.
Labor issues covered by the bill include labor law disputes, collective agreements, resolutions passed during meetings between employers and employees, labor contracts, work habits and other aspects of employment.
It would also cover disputes pertaining to unions or their members under the Labor Union Act (工會法) or union rules, disputes involving high-school students participating in internship programs, cases about gender discrimination in the workplace and vocational hazards.
To effectively handle labor issues, courts at all levels should create labor courts or a special labor section if a court is short-staffed, the bill says.
Each labor court should be presided over by a judge with expertise on labor laws or with experience in legal cases involving labor disputes, the bill states, adding that the judges are to be selected according to rules to be set out by the Judicial Yuan.
Before a prosecution is initiated, litigants would be given three chances to reach a settlement and one chance to list their arguments in a debate presided over by a proposed labor settlement committee to be established at each court, the bill says.
Considering that some workers might not be able to afford court fees, employees who bring their cases to their local courts might be exempted from paying court fees for up to five years, the bill states.
Workers involved in lawsuits that incur a court fee of at least NT$500,000 might be exempted from paying, but if the court rules in their favor, they would be required to pay the cost later from the compensation they receive, it states.
In labor lawsuits, workers often have fewer financial resources at their disposal, said the Judicial Yuan, which proposed the bill.
To ensure timeliness and fairness, legislation that specifically addresses labor issue deliberations that operates outside the framework of the Code of Civil Procedure (民事訴訟法) is necessary, the Judicial Yuan said.
The bill was introduced to carry out a resolution passed by the Presidential Office’s National Congress on Judicial Reform, which concluded in June last year, that prioritized promoting harmony between employers and employees, and ensuring that labor issues are promptly, fairly and professionally resolved, Premier William Lai (賴清德) said.
Lai said he would ask the Judicial Yuan and the Ministry of Labor to engage in extensive discussions with the four legislative caucuses in the hopes the bill would soon become law.
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