Most workers worried about proposed revision of overtime rules: poll

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Office workers walk out of an unknown building in this undated file photo. According to survey conducted by an online job bank, about 75 percent of employees in Taiwan are apprehensive about a government proposal to change the regulations pertaining to overtime work, as they think it ultimately will affect their health and quality of life. (NOWnews)

TAIPEI (CNA) – About 75 percent of employees in Taiwan are apprehensive about a government proposal to change the regulations pertaining to overtime work, as they think it ultimately will affect their health and quality of life, according to a survey released Tuesday.

The survey by 1111 online job bank found that among those who are concerned, 25.7 percent fear they will become physically and mentally exhausted if employers are allowed to set longer overtime hours, as proposed.

According to the poll, 19.1 percent of those who are worried are concerned about longer work days, while 12.4 percent fear they will be forced to work during holidays.

Although the current regulations allow no more than 40 regular work hours per week, 62 percent of employees in Taiwan work long hours every day, the poll showed.

On average, employees put in 11.4 hours of overtime per week, with 67 percent of office workers putting in an extra 9.7 hours per week on work that they take home, while executives work an extra 13 hours per week on take-home tasks, according to the survey.

The poll was conducted Oct. 23-Nov. 6 to obtain workers views on the government’s planned revisions to the overtime regulations. It collected 1,205 valid questionnaires and had confidence level of 95 percent and a margin of error of 2.82 percentage points.

The government is proposing to increase the maximum number of overtime time hours from 46 per month to 54, but cap it at 138 hours over three months.

The aim is to give employers and employees more flexibility to arrange their work schedules without putting too much strain on employers, the government said.

The proposal also addresses the issue of overtime pay on flexible days off, mandating that such compensation be calculated based on the actual amount of time worked rather than on blocks of four or eight hours as is the case at present.

The proposals are part the Ministry of Labor’s (MOL) recent draft revisions to the Labor Standards Act, which was amended last year but caused dissatisfaction among both employees and employers.

According to the MOL, the draft revisions are aimed at better meeting the needs of the public, boosting the economic development of the country, and establishing a flexible labor system that would guarantee the rights and protection of workers.

On Monday, Cabinet members and Democratic Progressive Party legislators agreed on the proposals, which now have to be vetted by the Ministry of Labor’s Legal Affairs Committee and by Lin Wan-i (林萬億), the minister without portfolio in charge of the matter, before being sent to the Cabinet for approval.

If approved by the Cabinet, the revisions will still have to be passed by the 113-seat Legislature, in which the DPP holds 68 seats.

By Tsai Yi-chu and Frances Huang