Cabinet bill to cut work week, extend 2-day weekends to all
The Executive Yuan on Thursday completed a draft amendment to the Labor Standards Act that is aimed at shrinking the work week and allowing two-day weekends for the country’s entire workforce.
About 3.4 million workers are expected to benefit from the change, which may be implemented at the start of 2016 in an effort to bring Taiwan’s working standards more in line with international conventions, according to Labor Minister Chen Hsiungwen ( ).
The draft amendment proposes a maximum 40-hour work week, revising the regulations that currently allow up to 84 hours a fortnight.
To minimize the impact on employers, however, the draft amendment increases the maximum number of overtime hours per month from 46 to 54.
Industrial and business associations had appealed to the government to set a yearly instead of a monthly limit on overtime hours, but Chen said the monthly limits are designed to prevent companies from overworking their employees by exploiting the loopholes inherent in administering a whole year’s worth of overtime hours.
Meanwhile, on the issue of weekends, Chen said two- day weekends have been in effect in the public service since 2001, but are granted to only about 50.1 percent of private sector employees.
The regulation will be extended to include Taiwan’s entire 8 million-strong workforce, he said.
In the private sector, however, the number of national holidays will be reduced from 19 to 12, more in line with the public sector regulations, a move that will help offset the effects of the twoday weekend on businesses, Chen said.
He said May 1, Labor Day, will remain a holiday in the private sector, which will give those employees one national holiday more than the 11 specified for the public sector.
Some of the private sector holidays that will be scrapped include the birthdays of founding father Sun Yat-sen (Nov. 12), Chiang Kai-shek (Oct. 31) and Constitution Day (Dec. 25), although those days will still be observed, the minister said.
Chen explained, however, that the number of working hours in the private sector could potentially increase by 48 hours per year because of two factors.
The first is the reduction in the number of national holidays, and the second is the increase in the maximum allowable number of overtime hours per month, he said.
Meanwhile, the amendment allows for overtime work to be compensated by means of additional payment or extra time off.
In cases of compensatory time off, the employee must apply within 10 working days of accumulating the overtime hours and must take the time off within six months, according to the draft bill.
If the employer is unable to grant the time off, the worker must be paid within six months of accumulating the overtime hours, the bill states.
Employees who are required to work on national holidays should also receive extra payment or compensatory time off that should be taken within seven days, according to the draft amendment.
It also requires employers to keep detailed and accurate employee work records and store the data for at least 5 years.
Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Chao Tien- lin (
) said that he hopes to see the first reading of the bill completed by April 30, on the eve of Labor Day, and that the opposition party will strive to make it a law by the end of the current legislative session