Group seeks new law for handling pregnant migrant caregivers

Mandatory pregnancy tests were removed from Taiwan's "Regulations Governing Management of the Health Examination of Employed Aliens" in 2015, in line with international maternity protection and human rights standards. (Shutterstock)

TAIPEI (CNA) — An organization representing Taiwanese employers of foreign domestic workers on Saturday called for legislation to allow the dismissal or transfer of workers who become pregnant and the re-institution of periodic pregnancy tests.

At a press conference, representatives of the Taiwan International Workers-Employment Relationship Harmony Development Association (TIWER) said they made the proposal out of concern for both the quality of care received by the employer and the health and human rights of the pregnant mother.

TIWER representative Chien Li-jen (簡莉珍) said that unlike migrant factory workers, who can be shifted to less physically demanding tasks while pregnant, domestic caregivers do not have this option and cannot be transferred or fired.

Domestic care work is strenuous by nature, Chien said, and she argued that it was not fair to ask employers to bear full responsibility for the safety of caregivers if they become pregnant.

At the same time, the law prohibits employers from dissolving their contract with the caregiver, which is a violation of employers’ rights, Chien said.

The TIWER made two proposals to address these issues. One was to re-institute periodic pregnancy tests for domestic care workers, so that both employer and employee will know if the latter becomes pregnant.

The other was to call on the government to establish a long-term caregiver law exempting domestic caregivers from the maternity protections that apply to other migrant workers.

When asked for a response, a Ministry of Labor official would not offer any opinion on the group’s demands and simply detailed the legal basis for the system currently in place.

Mandatory pregnancy tests were removed from Taiwan’s “Regulations Governing Management of the Health Examination of Employed Aliens” in 2015, in line with international maternity protection and human rights standards, the official said.

On the second demand, the official said that under the “Act of Gender Equality in Employment,” neither Taiwanese nor foreign workers can be subject to dismissal, discrimination, or other forms of unequal treatment from their employer for becoming pregnant.

Article 44 of the “Regulations on the Permission and Administration of the Employment of Foreign Workers” guarantees that foreign workers who give birth in Taiwan during their period of employment are allowed to continue in their positions, as long as they can care for the child, the official said.