Changes might be on the horizon for the ‘one fixed, one flexible’ day off scheme

The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Change could be in the cards for the “one fixed day off, one flexible rest day” workweek, which took effect in January.

The Chinese-language tabloid Apple Daily reported Friday that the Ministry of Labor was evaluating the matter of amending the workweek law.

The ministry aims to write up a bill by next month and to deliver it to the Executive Yuan for consideration by the end of August, according to Apple Daily, which did not name its source.

Labor Ministry Secretary-General Chen Ming-jen (陳明仁) denied the report, saying there were no plans at present for legal amendments.

Meanwhile Friday, Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (王美花) sat down with a business lobby to “collect viewpoints” on the embattled workweek law.

She said the purpose of the meeting was to identify the problems that were apparently plaguing Taiwan industry as it worked to implement the “one fixed, one flexible” scheme.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs declined to confirm or deny reports that the workweek scheme would be amended.

Lin Por-fong (林伯豐), chairman of the Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce (工商協進會), said that during the meeting he had proposed raising the overtime limit to 60 hours a month.

If the cap must be kept at the current 54 hours a month, the lobby group asks that allotted hours be calculated on a quarterly — and not monthly — basis, he said.

Lin said he still held out hope for “repairs” to the system, particularly because the transportation industry needed greater flexibility.

“Taiwan’s industrialists are obedient. Even in the face of unreasonable laws, we are submissive,” he said.

The meeting saw roughly 30 representatives from sectors including finance, tourism and manufacturing.

Lin told media he was “very thankful” to the government for listening to their views and that he “did not dare” instruct them on how to implement the changes.

The workweek law grants one mandatory day off every seven days, as well as one “flexible” day off every seven days, for which employees must be paid overtime wages if they work.

Citing rising operating costs, employers have pushed back against the workweek scheme, calling for revisions to the scheme or a moratorium.

Numerous lawmakers, including Democratic Progressive Party legislators like Lin Tai-hua (林岱樺) and Ho Hsin-chun (何欣純), have sponsored bills to amend the labor law.

Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德) weighed in on the issue Friday, saying during an interview that “in the end, there must be revisions.”