New legal interpretations by the Ministry of Labor threaten to compromise full implementation of the “one mandatory day off and one flexible rest day” system instituted by the amended Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法), the Social Democratic Party (SDP) said yesterday in a protest outside the ministry in Taipei.
“Workers have already seen seven national holidays cut to give way to the ‘one mandatory rest day and one flexible rest day’ system, but the Ministry of Labor is still making adjustments that threaten to change the goal of these reforms,” SDP spokesman Chen Yu-hsin (陳又新) said, alleging that the ministry’s new application of the “flexible work time” regulation would turn reforms into empty promises.
Billed as guaranteeing workers a five-day workweek, the reforms have bolstered overtime regulations by implementing a new weekly “flexible rest day” on top of the existing “mandatory day off.”
The ministry has granted exceptions to some industries, such as trucking, allowing them to use “flexible work hours” to move “rest days” and “days off” across periods of up to eight weeks.
“The ministry is using interpretative regulations to put an increasing number of industries out of the scope of the ‘one fixed day off and one flexible rest day’ system,” SDP National Committee member Miao Po-ya (苗博雅) said. “As for labor inspections, the ministry is planning to adopt a passive approach and only inspect reported violations.”
Department of Labor Standards and Equal Employment Deputy Director Huang Wei-chen (黃維琛) denied the claims, saying the ministry would begin to implement targeted inspection plans when the grace period for the new rules’ implementation expires in July.
The Labor Standards Act grants the ministry administrative flexibility to set special overtime and holiday rules for special types of work that need to be completed under a “responsibility system,” he said, referring to a work model in which it is an employee’s responsibility to ensure their work is completed.
“There can be flexibility, but there will absolutely be regulation,” Huang said. “The entire evaluation process on granting exceptions will be public, and they will only be granted to industries that can demonstrate a true need.”
The ministry will continue to communicate with the Nantou County Govenrment on enforcing the regulations, he said, adding that the county had applied for special subsidies earmarked for the enforcement of the “one mandatory day off and one flexible rest day” system.
Nantou County Commissioner Lin Ming-chen (林明溱) — whose county ranked last nationwide in labor inspection completion rates last year — has criticized the days-off system and instructed county officials to look into the possibility of not enforcing the policy.
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