The Council of Labor Affairs recently issued official letters to industrial associations and local governments to emphasize that Taiwanese nationals and foreign workers who have similar jobs should not be treated differently.
The council cited Article 42 of the Employment Service Act (就業服務法), which says that no employment of foreign workers may jeopardize employment opportunities for nationals, their employment terms, economic development or social stability.
The council recently drew widespread criticism for failing to protect the jobs of Taiwanese, who are often forced to take unpaid leave during production slowdowns, while foreign workers keep regular working hours because their salaries are lower.
The council said the act would only apply to Taiwanese nationals and foreign workers who have similar job descriptions.
Under the same working conditions, if a Taiwanese national was told to take unpaid leave or was laid off while a foreign worker kept his or her job, it would be a violation of the act and the employer could face a fine.
Local labor bureaus will send officials to investigate if they receive complaints from workers reporting employer violations.
Violators of the act will be fined between NT$60,000 and NT$300,000.
In related news, the council intends to amend regulations that require manufacturers to import foreign laborers within six months of gaining approval.
A council official said that under the current Employment Service Act, manufacturers are required to bring in foreign workers within six months of the approval, although some flexibility is allowed under special circumstances.
Some manufacturers recently petitioned the council to extend the six-month period, saying they had obtained approval last year to import workers.
But because of the economic slowdown, their demand for workers was not that urgent.
In response, the official said the council was drafting a plan to extend the six-month period on condition that the rights of local laborers is not compromised.
This means that “those employers should not lay off local laborers during the extended period,” the official said.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CNA