A Council of Labor Affairs’ (CLA) plan to loosen restrictions on hiring foreign help for the home has encountered opposition and may be put on hold.
Council officials met academics, lawmakers and labor representatives yesterday to discuss the restrictions on families hiring foreign workers for domestic work.
Council officials are considering an amendment to the Employment Service Act (就業服務法) that would relax restrictions on which households qualify to hire foreign help.
If passed, an estimated 2,000 families would be allowed to hire foreign help. Households with two people older than 80 years would be included.
Foreign workers’ wages can be as low as a half to one-third the salary of Taiwanese.
The current criteria for hiring foreign help is based on how many family members in the same residence need extra care, such as young children or the elderly.
Those needing medical assistance may apply to hire foreign caregivers based on the Barthel Index, which measures a person’s ability to perform day-to-day activities. A foreign caregiver, as opposed to a foreign home worker, must have medical certification.
Under the proposal, the Barthel figure given to people older than 80 could be weighted so that households with two immediate family members older than 80 would be eligible for foreign help.
However, labor groups such as the Taiwan Labour Front remain skeptical of the plan, saying that it could jeopardize job opportunities for middle-aged women who are re-entering the workforce after having children and middle-aged or elderly workers who are re-entering the workforce to increase the family’s income.
Some lawmakers have also opposed the plan, arguing that it would cut into already scarce home-related job opportunities.
The amendment would likely double the number of foreign home workers countrywide from 2,300 to about 5,000, the CLA said.
Officials said they could consider putting the plan on hold for now.
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