While long work hours and low wages seem to have become the norm for the average Taiwanese worker, salaried workers may be affected by rising trends of atypical employment methods, the Chinese Personnel Executive Association (CPEA) said yesterday.
Citing statistics from the International Labor Organization, the association’s chief executive Lin Yu-min (林由敏) said the wages of Taiwanese white-collar workers last year averaged NT$45,888 (US$1,550), coming in last in comparison with the other “Asian Tigers” — Hong Kong, South Korea and Singapore — and they worked a total of 2,140.8 hours a year on average.
The outsourcing of and changes to the industrial sector as well as amendments to employment laws — including increases in labor insurance rates, minimum wage and the second-generation National Health Insurance — are all factors causing the overhead of employing workers to skyrocket, Lin said, adding that companies have become more cautious in their human resource budgets.
Labor insurance rates rose late last year after an incident — the trust fund ING Securities Investment and Trust Co (ING SITC) which handled the Labor Insurance Fund, had made unusual money-losing investments with Labor Insurance Fund and Labor Pension Fund money — causing rumors to circulate that the Labor Insurance Fund could go bankrupt by 2016.
Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) said in April that the minimum wage would increase to NT$19,047, an increase of NT$267, or 1.42 percent, from the rate of NT$18,780 set in January last year. The increase took effect the same month.
“Coupled with low starting wages, the labor market’s employment methods are undergoing a huge shift,” Lin said.
The market is trending toward atypical employment — such as dispatch workers or temporary workers — and challenging the typical contract-employment method that is the norm in larger companies, Lin said.
Dispatch workers or temporary work had usually come from students or housewives wanting to augment family income, Lin said, adding that the economic slowdown in recent years has caused those unable to find employment to turn to dispatch and temporary work.
The total number of atypically employed workers was 740,000 people this year, Lin said.
Aypically employed workers had a lower starting wage — last year’s statistics shows that these workers made about NT$19,038 per month — and the growth of this type of employment would lead to a near-freeze of salary levels in the general labor market, Lin said.