Gov’t to monitor unpaid leave, provide subsidies

The China Post news staff

Vice Premier Sean Chen said yesterday that it’s difficult to judge at the moment whether companies are enforcing a new wave of unpaid leave, but the government will closely watch conditions and provide effective countermeasures to help those who are affected.

Chen made the remarks in response to questions from reporters before attending the opening ceremony for the Taipei World Design Expo 2011. The vice premier said that the Ministry of Economic Affairs is proceeding with investigations and that Taiwan Stock Exchange Corp. is also moving to better understand the current unpaid leave system used by local enterprises, especially high-tech ones, so as to get a full picture of the practice in Taiwan. Global and domestic economic conditions, as well as domestic fundamentals are crucial factors that may affect the manufacturing operations of local industries, and future changes of the conditions will further affect their operations.

When asked to comment on the fact that Taiwan lags far behind South Korea in the World Bank’s Doing Business Index for 2012, Chen said that the World Bank usually adopts the standards of the U.S. and European countries to gauge other countries of the world, just like giving clothes for a fat person to somebody who is lean. “The lean person would suffer, in that some indicators would get lower ratings,” Chen said. He noted that in the wake of the global financial crisis, South Korea has adopted standards set by the International Monetary Fund, and therefore it’s no wonder that the country is in a good position to get a better rating. In related news, officials with the Cabinet-level Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) said yesterday that the council will renew a subsidy program for workers taking unpaid leaves, as some firms have reported unpaid-leave practices to the CLA. The officials said that the CLA will set aside NT$500 million from the Employment Stabilization Fund to subsidize a maximum of 20,000 workers that take unpaid leave. Under the program, employees on unpaid leaves can apply for attending on-the-job training courses offered by enterprises themselves or other courses accredited by the CLA, and can then apply for subsidy, at a rate of NT$100 per hour and a maximum of NT$10,000 per month. Such employees are required to show documents showing that they take an unpaid leave for two hours within two weeks, along with their applications for the subsidy.

CLA officials said that service firms with a workforce of over 50 and manufacturing enterprises with at least 100 workers will be allowed to launch on-the-job training courses on their own.

The CLA will accept subsidy applications from qualified workers through March 31, 2012, and the training courses should be completed before June 30, 2012.