Legislators across party lines yesterday proposed an amendment that would grant COVID-19 pandemic-related leave subsidies to parents, potentially totaling up to NT$10 billion (US$357 million).
The proposal would add a clause to the Special Act for Prevention, Relief and Revitalization Measures for Severe Pneumonia with Novel Pathogens (嚴重特殊傳染性肺炎防治及紓困振興特別條例), allowing workers who have to take unpaid leave to take care of their children who are younger than 12 or attending elementary school to apply for the subsidies.
The subsidy amount would be 60 percent of the recipients’ total insurance payouts for the previous year, estimated at NT$683 per day.
Photo: Lo Pei-der, Taipei Times
Many parents, especially low-income families, have been forced to take unpaid leave to care for their children during a nationwide COVID-19 outbreak in the past few days, Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Legislator Lai Hsiang-ling (賴香伶) said.
Payment for leave in such situations is optional, as stipulated in Ministry of Labor regulations, said Lai, a labor rights advocate.
Some companies have refused to allow workers to take special paid leave for workers to take care of their children, and instead asked them to take a vacation leave, she said.
The companies’ requests contravene workers’ rights, Lai said, but added that many small and medium-sized firms could not afford to grant their workers special leave.
“It highlights the necessity of writing into law the rights of workers to take pandemic-related special leave bolstered by subsidy payments,” Lai said.
Since a level 3 COVID-19 alert was declared in Taipei and New Taipei City on Saturday last week, which was extended nationwide on Wednesday, more than 2.53 million children up to 12 years old are expected to stay home for two weeks, Lai said.
Considering that for each child one parent would have to stay home, and that a certain share of them would have to take special leave and apply for the subsidy, it is estimated that it would cost the government up to NT$10 billion, she said, adding that this amount was small, compared with the Executive Yuan’s special budget of NT$210 billion.
Lai said she hoped the amendment would be passed as soon as possible to help financially disadvantaged Taiwanese.
The bill, signed by 21 legislators across party lines, was sponsored by Lai, TPP Legislator Jang Chyi-lu (張其祿), Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Liu Chien-kuo (劉建國) and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Yang Chiung-ying (楊瓊瓔).
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