Saturday, April 30, 2016

Part-time staff need guaranteed days off and better regulations: minister

Part-time staff need guaranteed days off and better regulations: minister

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Minister of Labor Chen Hsiung-wen yesterday speaks at the Legislative Yuan.

Photo: Chen Chih-chu, Taipei Times

Regulations for part-time workers should be tightened to ensure that they receive days off, Minister of Labor Chen Hsiung-wen (陳雄文) said yesterday.
Chen made the remarks in response to a question from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alicia Wang (王育敏) at a meeting of the legislature’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee.
The committee was discussing the ministry’s plan to review regulations and implement concrete definitions for what constitutes “part-time work” and allow time off for part-time workers.
“Under the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法), part-time workers who have been employed for more than one year are entitled to paid holiday in proportion to their working hours, but according to ministry surveys, only 58 percent of those eligible for holidays actually receive their days off ,” Wang said, calling on the ministry to make the rights of part-time workers a “top priority” while reviewing the regulations.
“The ministry lets employers and workers decide how paid holidays should be allocated because rules only state that employers ‘could’ — not ‘must’ — provide days off. If workers wanted to be proactive in protecting their rights, they lack clear standards,” she said.
Chen said about one-fifth of the ministry’s more than 50,000 yearly worker inspections target industries employing a large number of part-time workers, with about a quarter of the inspections uncovering violations of workers’ rights, including 400 cases of workers being illegally denied paid holidays last year.
Chinese Nationalist Party Legislator Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) said the ministry should narrow the definition of what constitutes part-time work to prevent employers from taking advantage of legal loopholes.
“The current definition is extremely vague, which has led to many employers using circuitous methods to make part-time workers perform full-time work,” he said, adding that students and women who make up a majority of part-time workers often lack the bargaining power to negotiate with employers for their rights.
Ministry statistics show that 7.6 percent of part-time workers work more than 40 hours per week.
“The rights of part-time and full-time workers are the same, so their designation should not make any difference to employers. However, some employers exploit t workers’ lack of understanding and that needs to be changed,” Chen said, adding that the persistence of part-time workers working full-time raised the issue of whether it is necessary to draft “ironclad” rules to clarify the distinction.

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