Number of furloughed workers drop sharply, down over 7,000

CNA file photo

TAIPEI (CNA) — The number of furloughed workers in Taiwan fell by more than 7,000 over the past seven days, the largest decline since Taiwan reported its first COVID-19 case in January, the Ministry of Labor (MOL) said Monday.

As of Monday, 734 companies had unpaid leave programs with a total of 19,458 workers on furlough, down 7,627 from a week earlier, MOL data showed.

Huang Wei-chen (黃維琛), deputy director of the MOL’s Department of Labor Standards and Equal Employment, said the decline was the largest for any reporting period since the COVID-19 outbreak began in Taiwan.

Most of the decline during the past week came in the manufacturing and retail/wholesale sectors, helped by the resumption of industrial activity in foreign countries, according to Huang.

The tourism and travel sector also saw a fall in the number of furloughed workers over the past week as domestic travel remained strong during the peak summer travel season.

Among the companies that still had furlough programs as of Monday, 282 were manufacturers, 220 were retailers or wholesalers, and 47 were in the service sector, the data showed.

The majority of employees on unpaid leave were in the manufacturing sector at 13,577, followed by the retail and wholesale industry with 3,588, and the transportation and warehousing sector at 591, according to the data.

Most of the enterprises implementing furlough programs are small firms with workforces of fewer than 50 people, the ministry said, noting that these unpaid leave programs typically last for fewer than three months and involve employees taking five to eight days of unpaid leave per month.

The MOL updates furloughed worker data on a weekly basis. The numbers only include unpaid leave plans put in place by companies that are reported to the ministry.