Labor Ministry readies NT$20 bil. to tackle unpaid leave situation
Labor Minister Chen Hsiungwen ( ) said Wednesday that the ministry has “ammunition ready” to grapple with a possible situation of massive unpaid furloughs for local employees.
Chen said the ministry has prepared a fund of NT$20 billion (US$604.86 million) to subsidize employees who opt to engage in training courses during their furloughs, but he added his hope that it will not have to use the money.
He made the remarks on the sidelines of a legislative hearing when asked about recent reports of high-tech enterprises laying off staff or asking them to take unpaid furlough.
Chen said he has received information that not only companies in the high-tech industry, but also a lot of conventional sectors in Southern Taiwan have suspended business or have laid off staff.
Ministry statistics show that 226 enterprises have had massive layoffs since the beginning of this year, totaling 11,448, up 4,000 from last year. The number of those who claimed their first unemployment payments was more than 9,000 this year, or between 4,000 and 5,000 higher than last year.
The reason could be attributed to Taiwan’s fifth consecutive decline in exports, demonstrating the impact on the industries of an export-oriented country.
Chen said he did not think that the situation this time could be as bad as during the 2008 financial crisis, when 230,000 people from 900 enterprises were put on unpaid furlough.
783 Workers on Unpaid Leave
He said that so far, 783 staff from 19 enterprises have been put on unpaid furlough, while more than 200 enterprises have laid off around 10,000 people.
“There are some signs, but (the situation) should not be as serious as during the financial crisis,” he said.
He noted that the economic situation is not entirely under the ministry’s control, but is “ready with a lot of ammunition and will work closely with the Ministry of Economic Affairs.”
He said the ministry accumulated a lot of experience from the 2008 financial crisis, when it prepared funding of NT$30 billion to help those on unpaid leave or who were laid off to tide them over their difficulties.
Chen said that what the ministry can do is prepare resources to help employees so that they can receive subsidies for training while on unpaid leave.
On when the measures will be unveiled, Chen said the ministry will observe the situation over time, adding that when the number of people on unpaid leave — currently at around 700 — reaches 1,000, the ministry might step in.
He also pointed out that the current high unemployment could be attributed to a lot of college students freshly out of school and looking for work.