The Ministry of Labor on Wednesday issued a new directive, saying that from Aug. 1 it will be illegal for employees to work more than six consecutive days without a day off.
The new regulation replaces a labor law that allowed private sector employees to work 12 consecutive days and have two days off over a two-week period.
The decision to change the regulation was made in response to a Legislative Yuan resolution that stipulated workers must take at least one day off a week, Department of Labor Standards and Equal Employment Director Hsieh Chien-chien (謝倩蒨) said.
The legislative resolution said that it is damaging to health to work 12 consecutive days, Hsieh said.
“We have stipulated that employees and unions must agree to the change, but we cannot ensure that employers will not force workers to work 12 days in a row by allocating the required two days off at the beginning and end of the two week period,” she said.
The government’s latest “pro-labor” gesture drew ire from business associations, whose leaders said that it would make business operations more difficult and trigger labor disputes.
The ministry’s new regulation would tie the hands of department store operators, particularly during the high season, National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises president Lin Hui-ying (林慧瑛) said.
Another drawback is that lower-paid employees who need extra income would not be able to earn as much overtime, Lin said.
She said she feared that the unilateral decision to change the regulation would be disadvantageous to workers, employers and the government.
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