The government should order employers not to use workers’ COVID-19 relief funds to pay salaries, the New Power Party (NPP) said yesterday, after receiving multiple complaints from workers who said they did not receive their relief funds in full.
The Executive Yuan appropriated more relief funds to businesses and workers for the financial losses they incurred after the Central Epidemic Command Center raised a nationwide pandemic alert to level 3 in May.
In addition to subsidies for affected businesses, each affected worker is entitled to a government subsidy of NT$40,000 — a one-time salary subsidy of NT$30,000 and NT$10,000 from the Employment Stabilization Fund.
Photo: Tu Chien-jung, Taipei Times
Workers’ relief funds are given to employers, who then have to distribute them to their employees.
“However, we have received multiple complaints from movie theater workers that their employers listed the relief funds as their salaries from May to July on their pay slips. As such, they received only a fraction of the money allotted to them,” NPP legislative caucus whip Chiu Hsien-chih (邱顯智) told a news conference.
Movie theater workers who did not receive their relief funds in full applied for full-time workers’ subsidies from the Ministry of Labor, which rejected their applications because their employers had already applied for subsidies from the Ministry of Culture, Chiu said.
If the government allows such illegal practices to continue, workers would not receive the assistance they need and employers would simply disregard government regulations, he said.
The Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) requires employers to pay full wages to workers themselves, NPP Legislator Claire Wang (王婉諭) said.
The relief funds are government subsidies, which have nothing to do with the wages that employers are supposed to pay their workers, Wang said, adding that employers must distribute relief funds to workers.
NPP Chairwoman Chen Jiau-hua (陳椒華) said the government should issue an official notification telling employers that they must not use relief funds to pay salaries.
Chien Shao-chi (簡紹麒), a specialist at the National Development Council, said the Executive Yuan has appropriated funds to subsidize employers affected by the level 3 alert, so they should not use workers’ relief funds to pay salaries.
The council would hold an internal meeting to discuss whether to issue an official notification to all government agencies banning the practice, Chien said.
Lin Hung-yi (林宏義), director of the Ministry of Culture’s planning department, said his ministry’s mechanism aims to ensure that workers receive relief funds in full, adding that regulations governing the use of relief funds for workers should be identical among government agencies.
The Ministry of Labor said that government agencies should budget relief funds for employers and employees.
How the salaries should be paid should be decided through negotiations between employers and employees, unless regulations impose other restrictions, it said.
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