Taiwan Made Simple | When is the best time to ask for a raise?

Coworkers talk and exchange ideas during a meeting. (Shutterstock)

TAIPEI (The China Post) — If you are hoping for a pay raise before the end of the year, you should brace yourselves for some bad news.

Most Taiwan workers haven’t seen their income increase in recent years despite Taiwan’s strong economic performance, according to a new survey by an online job bank.

Even more worrisome, analysts expect companies to wait until after business returns to pre-pandemic levels before giving staff the financial push they deserve.

Retail workers in department stores, supermarkets and hypermarkets, for instance, reported the lengthiest salary freeze at four years and three months on average, employment website 1111 reported on Tuesday.

Workers in the service sector — mostly food and beverage vendors — also waited for an average of three years and eight months before seeing a hike in their monthly income.

The implementation of the Level 3 epidemic warning after a case surge from mid-May to mid-August hit the local and retail sectors even harder. Many business owners had no choice but to furlough employees and cut operating costs in a bid to survive.

Workers in the pan-finance sector, on the other hand, reported the shortest period without a raise at two years and three months, indicating that financial services continued to boom despite the pandemic.

The problem is that employers are unlikely to increase pays next year given the uncertain economic outlook. The reason is simple, companies want to know if their business will return to pre-pandemic levels first, according to 1111 spokesperson Vivi Huang (黃若薇).

Taiwan’s economy grew last year 3% higher than that of its neighboring countries Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong, all of which fell sharply amid spikes in local infections.

Even in a weak global economy, Taiwan has seen record exports thanks to soaring global demand for the technology components and products needed to work and study at home.

Against this backdrop, the Ministry of Labor (MOL, 勞動部) said last week that Taiwan’s minimum monthly and hourly wage will increase by 5.21 percent from Jan. 1, 2022 — the sixth consecutive year it has been increased.

The 5.21 percent increase will raise the minimum monthly wage from NT$24,000 (US$857) at present to NT$25,250 and the minimum hourly wage from NT$160 to NT$168. This is great news for millions of people who survive by doing some of the most difficult jobs in Taiwan.

Regretfully, the move is likely to lower the gap between workers with little or now qualification and young college graduates who earn merely NT$28,000 to NT$32,000 per month.