Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Taipei to beef up labor inspections, to focus on media

Taipei to beef up labor inspections, to focus on media

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Mar 04, 2015 - Page 3

Taipei will take new steps to beef up enforcement of labor regulations, adding new inspectors and conducting a full-scale inspection of media firms, the city’s Department of Labor announced yesterday.
“We have designated accompanying appraisers to participate in labor inspections,” Department of Labor Commissioner Lai Hsiang-lin (賴香伶) said. “Our objective is to improve the effectiveness of our inspections, ameliorate the overuse of the responsibility system and distortion of the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法).”
While labor union representatives already participate in inspections within their industries, the new policy represents the first time workers in non-unionized industries will be invited to accompany department inspectors on their rounds, division chief Ho Hung-cheng (何洪丞) said.
“Including worker representatives will help prevent firms from hoodwinking us,” Ye Chien-neng (葉建能), another division chief, said, adding that workers’ knowledge of their fields and related firms would help them ask the right questions.
Using the media industry as an example, he said that the city has been unable to enforce regulations on overtime work because half of the firms inspected claim they have no record of employee work hours.
After holding discussions with media representatives, the department found that it could use Line messages and filing times for articles to estimate work time in lieu of conventional time cards, he said.
Finding proof of overwork or failure to pay overtime would enable the department to potentially triple the fines that a firm would already face for failing to keep work hour records, Ye said.
The department also announced that beginning in the middle of this month, it would conduct a full round of inspections into the labor practices of 31 of the city’s largest media outlets, with follow-up inspections later this year for companies found to have violated labor regulations.
Inspections of media firms will be followed by further rounds of enforcement targeting the medical, financial and technology fields, the department said.
Lai said that the department’s objective was to spark public discussion by publicizing violations of labor regulations in the targeted industries.
She said that fines alone were unlikely to change the behavior of the violating firms.
With fines capped at NT$30,000 for each type of citation, city fines would be pocket change to the corporations affected, she added.
Meanwhile, the city government announced that labor union representatives will make up one-fifth of city appointments to the corporate boards of firms in which the city holds a stake.

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