Surprise nighttime inspections of six financial institutions found that all of them appeared to be engaged in one or more allegedly unlawful activities, Taipei Department of Labor Commissioner Chen Hsin-yu (陳信瑜) said yesterday.
Beginning in May, the department received several petitions from Taipei City Councilor Hsu Li-hsin (徐立信) and the Taiwan Federation of Financial Unions, reporting that bank employees have been working too much overtime trying to handle applications for COVID-19 relief loans and were not getting paid for it, Chen said.
Applications for the government’s COVID-19 pandemic relief loan program for Taiwanese workers aged 20 or older opened on April 30, with each applicant able to apply for a maximum of NT$100,000 (US$3,404) per person.
The Ministry of Labor has stipulated that companies handling work associated with the loan program can be regarded as working under an “unexpected event” situation as stipulated in the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法), meaning that employees would be allowed to extend their working hours or work on holidays if needed.
The department decided to conduct unannounced inspections at night at six randomly selected financial institutions that were offering the relief loans to check on employees’ working conditions, Chen said.
She said that she had personally led the spot inspections of state-owned Bank of Taiwan, Taipei Fubon Commercial Bank, KGI Bank, Yuanta Commercial Bank, Standard Chartered Bank Taiwan and the Small and Medium Enterprise Credit Guarantee Fund of Taiwan.
All six have allegedly contravened the Labor Standards Act through such actions as not paying overtime according to the legally prescribed calculation method, not giving enough days off and not giving the correct payment for working on rest days, the department said.
Other alleged contraventions include not reporting the overtime situation to the labor union or the department within the required timeframe and inaccurate attendance records, it added.
“The inspections found some bank employees worked 61.5 hours of overtime in one month,” Chen said.
Bank managers should comply with occupational safety and health regulations to prevent employees dying from overwork, Chen said, as she encouraged employees to collect proof of unlawful behavior by their employers and report them to the department.
Department official Chen Kun-hong (陳昆鴻) said the six companies would be allowed to make statements to respond to the allegations that they had contravened the labor act.
However, if the allegations are confirmed, they could be fined between NT$20,000 and NT$1 million, Chen Kun-hong said.
There are more than 30 financial institutions handling the COVID-19 relief loans, and the department would continue to conduct inspections of their working conditions, although those who have been reported to the department for alleged breaches would be checked first, Chen Kun-hong said.
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