‘No plans to remove wage floor’ for foreign white-collar workers

By Christine Chou, The China Post

The Ministry of Labor said Wednesday it would “absolutely not relax” the minimum salary requirement for foreign white-collar workers, despite a recent policy push to lure more global talent to Taiwan’s workforce. Currently, foreign professionals may legally work in Taiwan only if a local employer pays them a minimum monthly salary of NT$47,971 (US$1,568).

During an interpellation session at the Legislative Yuan, Labor Minister Lin Mei-chu (林美珠) said the ministry tried to relax the minimum salary requirement two years ago, but the proposal was put on ice in March 2016 after meeting widespread opposition. The plan had aimed to replace the minimum requirement with a criteria-based individual assessment system. Lin said Wednesday that although the National Development Council (國發會) would soon unveil measures to entice top international talent to work in Taiwan, the minimum wage threshold would remain in place and even be raised in certain fields. Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Wu Yu-chin (吳玉琴) expressed concern that existing labor policies have proven to have limited success with attracting foreign talent. According to Labor Ministry statistics, the number of work permits issued to foreign professionals has remained at around 30,000 a year for the past 10 years. The ministry came under intense scrutiny recently after it turned away two overseas theater troops’ applications for temporary work permits on the grounds of insufficient capital. The ministry said they must have more than NT$5 million in capital to qualify. Critics have bemoaned Taiwan’s tendency to shape policies on the basis of protecting locals, saying that protectionism was stifling to development and calling for more flexible regulations.