Government to subsidize on-the-job skills training

OBLIGATION: Businesses that cannot afford to pay a worker’s minimum wages are not eligible for the program. Lawmakers say it is the firms’ duty to do so

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Fri, Dec 26, 2008 - Page 4

The government will not provide subsidies to businesses that are unable to pay the minimum monthly wage for workers forced to take unpaid leave but will instead fund employers to organize on-the-job training during the production slowdown, Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) Jennifer Wang (王如玄) said yesterday.

“Businesses have to pay a monthly wage of more than NT$17,280, the statutory minimum wage level stipulated in the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法). It’s their obligation,” Wang told a press conference that was held following the weekly Cabinet meeting yesterday.

The council had estimated that the number of workers forced to take unpaid leave would increase to 200,000, up from the current estimated 40,000.

To address the problem of the growing number of employees currently on unpaid leave, the Cabinet yesterday approved a NT$15.97 billion (US$483.72 million) plan proposed by the CLA.

Under the plan, each small to medium sized firm can apply for up to NT$950,000 a year to organize on-the-job training, while the upper limit for large enterprises to host such programs is NT$1.9 million.

Each laborer who joins the on-job training progams will obtain a subsidy of up to NT$10,000 a month for a maximum of six months on condition that he or she attend the training for no less than 24 hours a month.

The CLA said that plan would help 600 large-scale enterprises and 5,000 small to medium firms provide about 168,000 employees with in-service training.

“Given the limited resources, how to use money where it is needed most is a very difficult problem. Perhaps the plan is not perfect and might have a few moral hazards, but it will make businesses refrain from reducing their staff and improve employees’ skills for work,” Wang said.

The program will take effect in February.

Meanwhile, in related news, Minister of Transportation and Communications Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) said yesterday that since the Grand Hotel is built on state-owned land, “the government must act as a good-will guardian of the hotel’s management.”

“For the moment, the hotel must be able to sustain itself, otherwise the government cannot do anything to help it,” Mao said.

Additional reporting by Shelley Shan