RAISING COSTS:Employers have been using the three-year exit rule to avoid paying severance pay, as it automatically terminates worker contracts, an industry group said
By Abraham Gerber / Staff reporter
Proposed amendments to the Employment Service Act (就業服務法) drew fire from labor brokers yesterday, with an industry advocacy group saying that allowing foreign blue-collar workers vacations would increase labor costs and conflicts.
“While the new rules are being touted as helping employers, in reality they will only serve to increase costs,” said Chang Tien-yung (張添勇), president of the Taipei Employment Service Institute Association, which represents labor brokers.
Amendments to the act passed by the Legislative Yuan’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee last month eliminate the requirement that blue-collar foreign workers leave the nation every three years, while granting them the right to ask for time off to return to their home countries.
The requirement has drawn criticism because foreign workers wishing to return to their countries have to pay new brokerage fees worth several months of salary, even if they return to the same employer and job.
Amendment sponsor Wu Yu-chin (吳玉琴), a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator, has said that new requirements could help employers eliminate the inconvenience of the “empty window period” they previously faced every three years, as well as eliminating complicated application requirements by allowing them to directly continue their contracts with foreign workers.
Chang said the requirements would create additional trouble for employers because they would still be obligated to grant workers substantial leave to return home, while also raising the possibility that workers would use their new rights to put pressure on factory owners for additional benefits.
“They would choose to ask for time off collectively during the busiest part of the production cycle and you would not have the right to refuse,” he said, adding that employers would also face new obligations to pay workers severance pay.
Employers have been able to use the three-year exit requirement to avoid paying severance pay because it automatically terminates worker contracts, he said, adding that many employers use the requirement to gradually weed out unqualified workers by choosing not to hire them again.
With the end of the requirement, employers would be forced to fire and award severance pay to any workers who they did not want to continue to employ, he said, adding that most factories do not face serious “empty window periods,” because they hire workers incrementally in cycles.
Review of the amendments by the Legislative Yuan’s general assembly is scheduled for this week, along with a possible vote.