CLA warns firms on illegal unpaid leave

The China Post news staff

The Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) yesterday said it has ordered local governments to send out notices cautioning employers against unilaterally forcing employees to accept “unpaid leave.”

CLA Minister Wang Ju-hsuan (王如玄) reiterated that the “unpaid leave” arrangement can be made only after both sides — employers and employees — reach a consensus. Such plans must result from negotiations between employers and employees, she said, adding that employers cannot pay workers less than the minimum wage. If the employer forces workers to take unpaid leave without the employee’s agreement, the former has violated labor laws and can face fines between NT$200,000-NT$300,000. According to the new policy, the identity of violating companies can also be made public. Wang urged all employers to respect the rights and opinions of their workers. As a reflection of the global economic downturn, rumors of companies such as AU Optronics Corp. (友達) and Chimei Innolux Corp. (奇美電子) abusing labor laws by forcing workers to take unpaid leave have arisen once again.

Employees of Chimei Innolux complained that their salaries were cut, and they were forced to take time off without pay. Both companies have denied the accusations, claiming that changes to schedules had confused employees.

Similar cases occurred in 2008 and the following years of the financial meltdown, when workers all over Taiwan protested against illegal unpaid leave practices.