Restaurants facing higher staff costs: survey

By Kuan-lin Liu, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The impact of recent amendments to the Labor Act are already being felt by the hospitality industry, with 67 percent of restaurants reporting increased personnel costs, according to a 1111 Job Bank survey released Wednesday.

While affected businesses had experienced on average a 9.8 percent increase in costs, only about 4 percent of them had chosen to pass the price hikes on to consumers, Lee Da-hua (李大華), 1111’s deputy general-manager, said at a forum also attended by lawmakers and business owners. Opposition Kuomintang Legislator Lee Yen-hsiu (李彥秀) accused the government of “beating around the bush” about the effects of the new workweek law and of not taking responsibility for the increased operating costs.

“I think the Executive Yuan’s mentality is that if employers’ price hikes are not in response to the new labor laws, then these hikes make sense,” Lee said, alluding to a comment made Tuesday by Cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (許國勇).

This, Lee said, was not the kind of attitude needed to solve the problems related to the amendment. Cabinet Findings During a press conference Tuesday, Cabinet spokesman Hsu said workweek rules set by the newly amended Labor Standards Act were not to blame for price hikes at some restaurants. The Executive Yuan’s Consumer Protection Committee found that only 12 of 218 restaurants surveyed had recently raised their prices, and only one of these attributed the increase to the new labor law, with the others citing jumps in the price of ingredients and other operating costs. However, legislators at Wednesday’s forum said these additional increases in “other” costs were likely the result of personnel cost increases at the restaurants’ suppliers. ‘The reason behind the triple losses’ “The Ministry of Labor did not give businesses in any industry enough time to get acquainted and adjusted to the labor amendments,” Lee said.

“This is reason behind the triple losses experienced by employers, workers and consumers that the new labor laws have brought about.”

According to the job bank, 73 percent of businesses in the hospitality industry reported being affected by the amendment, with 22 percent of these reporting a large impact.

Not only has the new law led to increases in operating costs, but businesses have also reported difficulties in scheduling employees’s working hours.

Striking a similar note were employees at the forum, who reported being “forced to take days off to comply with the regulation,” resulting in lower monthly incomes.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislators Liu Chien-kuo (劉建國) and Liu Chao-hao (劉櫂豪), who were also in attendance, promised to report the survey’s findings to the Ministry of Labor. As many forum speakers noted, the ministry did not send a representative to the event.