The number of workers on unpaid leave as of the end of last month hit a new high for this year, as the economy feels the effects of escalating trade frictions between the US and China, the Ministry of Labor said on Monday.
The number of employees on unpaid leave as of Saturday last week was 2,257, up 245 from Aug. 15, ministry data showed.
The government releases data on unpaid leave twice a month to clarify labor market conditions and the economic climate.
In the second half of last month, 33 employers had unpaid leave programs with the agreement of their employees, up by seven from the first half of the month, the data showed.
During the 15-day period, three of the employers ended their programs, but 10 others started new ones.
Among the firms with such programs, 13 are in the metal/electromechanical industry; four in the information and electronics industry; and two in the chemical industry, while the remaining 14 are in various other industries, the ministry said.
The data did not cover travel agencies, although the tourism industry has decried a decline in Chinese visitors, especially after China banned individual visitors from the beginning of last month, it added.
Most of the companies are small enterprises with fewer than 50 employees and their unpaid leave programs lasted less than three months, with the consent of employees, who agreed to take up to four days of unpaid leave each month, the ministry said.
After consulting the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the labor ministry found that the job market has been affected not only by global trade issues, but also industry-related problems, Minister of Labor Hsu Ming-chun (許銘春) said, without detailing the issues.
Hsu urged employers to provide employees on unpaid leave with on-the-job training to boost their competitiveness and prevent them from remaining idle.
The labor ministry would provide financial assistance to employers who are willing to offer on-the-job training programs, she said, adding that it has already launched its own skills training program to reduce financial burdens on furloughed workers.
The labor ministry said that employees can also take online training courses available at its Skill Evaluation Center Web site.
Employers have been instructed to pay their employees no less than the minimum wage of NT$23,100 per month to maintain the affected workers’ living standards, it added.
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