Representatives of university adjunct faculty and assistants protested outside the Department of Health (DOH) yesterday, accusing it of inaction as universities ignored a law requiring that all employees be covered by the National Health Insurance (NHI) program.
Most universities in the nation have failed to enroll adjunct or part-time faculty and teaching and research assistants in the insurance program as stipulated in the National Health Insurance Act (全民健康保險法), the Taiwan Higher Education Union said, adding that these part-time employees can only join the health program either by registering as an “unemployed worker” in their district offices or through their parents or spouses.
“What’s worse is that with the second-generation NHI system taking effect, adjunct teachers now have to pay a 2 percent supplementary premium,” union secretary-general Chen Cheng-liang (陳政亮) said.
The 2 percent supplementary premium rate is imposed on each NT$5,000 an insured person earns from any of the following six sources: moonlighting, rent, interest, stock dividends, professional practice and performance bonus if the amount is four times more than the monthly salary.
As a result, an adjunct teacher who teaches at five universities and earns NT$41,580 per month has to pay a monthly premium of NT$1,534 — an amount that is equivalent to the rate paid by a regular employee earning NT$105,600 per month, the union said.
“Since on average I earn more than NT$5,000 per month from each university I work at, each of my income is subject to the 2 percent supplementary premium rate,” said Hsu Wen-lu (徐文路), an adjunct assistant professor.
According to a survey conducted by the union earlier this year, 132 of the nation’s 166 universities and colleges refuse to enrol adjunct teachers in the NHI program.
Specifically, 27 of the 55 public universities and colleges have failed to comply with this obligation, with another 12 “conditionally” insuring non-tenured teachers, contingent upon whether the department is sufficiently funded, the union cited National Taiwan University as saying.
The union said that while investigating the issue, many of the universities and colleges surveyed excused themselves by citing an interpretative rule issued by the DOH in 1995, which states that only when an employee’s workweek exceeds 12 hours will the employer be obligated to enroll them in the NHI program.
The union said the interpretative rule was a “violation” of the law, citing Lin Chia-ho (林佳和), an assistant professor at National Chengchi University’s College of Law.
“The status of tenured or non-tenured or full-time or part-time does not affect the fact that the schools are, under the law, the employers of the adjunct faculty and assistants. The interpretative rule contradicts the NHI Act, creating an exclusion clause that is not written in the law, which renders it an illegitimate legal interpretation,” said Lin.