More than 900 companies had furloughed employees as of the end of last month, an indication that the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to hurt local businesses, especially smaller ones, Ministry of Labor data showed.
Ministry of Labor statistics released on Friday showed that 18,840 workers from 922 companies have been placed on unpaid leave, an increase of 575 workers from 118 companies from a week earlier.
The number of companies that have furloughed employees is the most since statistics were first recorded in January 2009. The previous record of 903 companies was recorded in April that year during the global financial crisis.
Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times
However, the number of workers on unpaid leave remained well below the peak of 238,975 in February 2009, when big manufacturers were forced to idle their workforces.
Department of Labor Standards and Equal Employment Deputy Director Huang Wei-chen (黃維琛) said the high number of firms resorting to furloughs showed that many small businesses have struggled to keep their staff busy during the slowdown caused by the pandemic.
Larger firms have been less likely to put employees on temporary leave because of subsidies received from the government, Huang said.
Under Taiwan’s economic bailout program, businesses granted government subsidies are not allowed to lay off workers or cut their hours.
The manufacturing sector had 6,501 workers on unpaid leave, the most of any sector over the past week, ministry data showed.
The hospitality sector followed with 4,304 employees on temporary leave, while the retail and wholesale sector had 3,645 workers furloughed and the supportive services sector had 1,332.
Most companies using the unpaid leave system in the past few months have required fewer than 50 people to take an extra day or two off per week due to the pandemic, the ministry said.
The figures only cover companies that have reached temporary leave agreements with employees and reported them to the ministry, and do not cover businesses that have forced workers to take time off without going through the ministry’s system, it said.
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