Furloughed workers rise to 22,500 with 10,000 in manufacturing sector

CNA file photo for illustrative purpose

TAIPEI (CNA) — The number of workers on unpaid leave in Taiwan as of May 22 was 22,500, including more than 10,000 in the manufacturing sector, as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to affect the domestic and global economy, the Ministry of Labor (MOL) said Monday.

As of May 22, a total of 1,285 companies were implementing unpaid leave programs, in cooperation with their employees, up from 1,189 as of May 18, MOL data showed.

The total number of workers on furlough from those companies as of May 22 was 22,500, compared with 21,067 four days earlier, according to the data.

In the export-oriented manufacturing sector, the number of workers on unpaid leave rose by 1,383 over the four-day period, to 10,169, the largest number among the major industries, the MOL said.

Within that sector, the metal/electrical industry sent more than 800 workers on furlough over the four-day period, as orders from foreign buyers continued to fall sharply due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hsieh Chien-chien (謝倩蒨), director-general of the MOL’s Department of Labor Standards and Equal Employment, told reporters.

Other industries with high furlough numbers as of May 22 were the wholesale/retail sector (3,839) and the hospitality and food/beverage industry (3,569), the MOL said.

However, the number of workers on unpaid leave in the hospitality and food/beverage industry, declined by about 400 from May 18, as the government moved to lift some of its COVID-19 restrictions and implement relief measures.

Among the companies with employees on furlough, the wholesale/retail sector had the highest number at 386, followed by the manufacturing sector with 283, and the hospitality and food/beverage industry with 157, the MOL said.

The number of workers on unpaid leave in Taiwan is at the highest since November 2009, when the global economy was hit by financial crisis, according to Hsieh.

In Taiwan, furlough programs typically last less than three months, with employees taking five to eight days of unpaid leave per month, the MOL said.

According to the MOL, most of the companies implementing unpaid leave are small enterprises with fewer than 50 workers.

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