The Ministry of Labor (MOL) yesterday detailed the latest government policies to ease unemployment amid the COVID-19 pandemic, including cash handouts of NT$30,000 (US$994.96) for self-employed people or freelancers.
To qualify for the cash handout, a worker must have participated in the Labor Insurance plan through a guild, Minister of Labor Hsu Ming-chun (許銘春) told a news conference at the Executive Yuan in Taipei.
To make sure that only those in need would receive the handouts, applicants must have been exempt from paying individual income taxes last year, and their insured monthly salary under the Labor Insurance system must not exceed NT$24,000, she said.
The handout would be wired into the bank account of successful applicants in a lump sum, she said.
People who are already receiving a government-issued subsidy due to the pandemic would not be eligible for the labor ministry’s subsidy, she said.
For example, tour guides who are receiving a monthly subsidy of NT$10,000 from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications would not qualify even if they are freelancers, she said.
The labor ministry’s statistics showed that about 1.33 million people would be eligible for the cash handout, she said.
The labor ministry is also planning to offer subsidized loans of up to NT$100,000 per person whose livelihood has been affected by the pandemic, with the interest rate capped at 1.845 percent, Hsu said.
The loan repayment period would be set at three years, with the ministry covering the interest payment for the first year and the borrower paying annual interest of no more than NT$1,845 in the second and third year, she said, adding that the ministry expects about 500,000 applicants.
The labor ministry would start accepting applications for the loans and the cash handouts within two weeks of the Legislative Yuan approving a proposed increase of NT$150 billion in the special budget for bailing out industries and workers hardest hit by the pandemic, she said.
In light of the increasing number of workers on unpaid leave, the ministry has put forward a plan to allow furloughed people to take part-time jobs at local governments, which is set to take effect in about a week, she said.
Participants would be allowed to work up to 80 hours per month at a designated local government agency and be paid the minimum hourly wage of NT$158, she said.
The project would last three to six months and is expected to benefit about 60,000 workers, she said.
The labor ministry has drawn up a similar plan for people laid off as a result of the pandemic, which would be initiated if the unemployment rate rises sharply, she added.
It has earmarked NT$6 billion for subsidies to about 60,000 university graduates whose job prospects might have been affected by the pandemic, but the specifics of the policy are still being ironed out, she said.
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