The Ministry of Labor on Tuesday temporarily exempted four key industries from a law mandating that workers receive a minimum of 11 hours rest between shifts, citing the country’s ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.
Under the policy, the minimum time between shifts for workers in the manufacturing, wholesale, general retail and warehousing sectors would be shortened to eight hours, as opposed to the 11 hours mandated by the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法), the ministry said.
The move, which applies to an estimated 490,000 workers, would remain in effect until Taiwan’s level 3 COVID-19 alert is lifted, it said.
The national level 3 alert, announced on May 19 and extended through June 28, was imposed in response to a COVID-19 outbreak that started in the middle of last month.
One byproduct of the outbreak has been a spike in online shopping and demand for staple products, which has in turn placed significant strain on home delivery services, as well as retailers such as supermarkets and their supply chains.
The ministry’s announcement follows a decision it made last month to lift limits on overtime work for manufacturing, logistics and retail workers, under special guidelines related to emergency situations.
Department of Labor Standards and Equal Employment Director Huang Wei-chen (黃維琛) said that the new policy is intended to give industries flexibility in scheduling to meet increased demand.
Companies that wish to use the new guidelines must first obtain permission from their employees, either through labor-management meetings or labor unions, while companies with more than 30 employees must also notify the local government, Huang said.
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