More eateries opt to close over Lunar New Year

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The five-day workweek law is bringing changes to the food and hospitality industries, with some restaurants choosing to close during the upcoming Lunar New Year holidays to avoid high overtime payments and some hotels stepping up recruitment to ease labor shortages.

The Lunar New Year has been one of the busiest periods offering handsome profits for restaurants. But some of the restaurants in Taichung have decided to take a break this year because there is no point opening the doors during the holidays when the profits would be eaten up by the over-time pay for the employees, according to the United Daily News. The new five-day workweek law requires employers to pay their employers more than two times their regular pay when they have to give up their holidays and work. One hot pot restaurant chain said it was considering closing for the holidays as the hourly pay for part-timers would be more than double the regular level, according the newspaper. Food-material suppliers are also changing their delivery schedules for the Lunar New Year holidays, the paper added. In the past they would still deliver supplies to restaurants up to Lunar New Year’s Eve, but this year they are advancing their delivery schedules — which involve arrangements of food processing personnel and truck drivers — to avoid having to work on holidays, the paper said. Lunar New Year’s Eve is a statutory public holiday. In fact, it has always been difficult for restaurants to find enough workers to work during Lunar New Year, and the five-day workweek law is giving restaurants less incentive to stay open during the holidays. But for the hotel sector, the five-day workweek law has seen some major hotels look to recruit more staff this year, as the new law is making it less flexible to set a working schedule with existing personnel. L’Hotel de Chine hotel chain has announced a plan to expand its full-time staff by 10 percent in 2017 in response to the five-day workweek law. The chain, which runs 10 hotels and two restaurants, said it is looking to recruit more than 160 workers this year. FIH Regent Group has also revealed that it is looking to add 200 employees to its workforce, partly due to the workweek law and partly due to the needs of the soon-to-open Silks Place hotel in Kaohsiung, according to the Economic Daily News. The group runs the Regent hotels, as well as the Silks Place and Just Sleep hotel chains. The Leofoo Tourism Group, which runs the Westin Taipei and other hotels in Taiwan, is also seeking to recruit almost 100 new full-time employees this year, the Economic Daily News said. But Leofoo said in the meantime, the short-term solution to the impact of the five-day workweek law is to hire part-time workers to temporarily make up the labor shortfall, according to the paper. Meanwhile, rising labor costs resulting from the five-day workweek law are heaping pressure on fast food chains. McDonald’s Taiwan had already raised its prices by four to seven percent before the workweek law was implemented, while KFC Taiwan has also raised the prices of some of its food items by three to 12.5 percent according to the paper. MOS Burger was originally set to raise prices at its outlets on Friday, but canceled the decision at the last minute.