Gov’t takes precautions against rise of unpaid leave
The government has taken precautions in case the number of employees given unpaid leave continues to rise, but the situation remains far less serious than during the global financial crisis in 2008 and 2009, public agencies have said.
Taiwan’s export-oriented economy is vulnerable to global economic volatility, and a recent slowdown in global trade has hurt orders at many Taiwanese electronics companies, prompting them to give employees unpaid days off to keep costs down.
The Ministry of Labor (MOL) said on Thursday that a special fund of NT$20 billion (around US$600 million) has been set aside to help companies and employees facing furloughs in case of emergency.
A source at the MOL’s vocational training center said that while there were no indications that the number of people on unpaid leave might shoot up in the foreseeable future, the ministry was prepared to use the special fund to offer job training or other assistance.
Special Task Force Ready
A special task force consisting of representatives from the Economic Affairs, Labor, and Science and Technology ministries and the Financial Supervisory Commission that was first created in 2011 could also spring into action should the number of people furloughed surge. The government first established special employment security fund in 2008 to lend support to furloughed workers after the global financial crisis battered Taiwan’s exports.
At the peak of the crisis in February and March 2009, over 230,000 employees were on unpaid leave.
The numbers today are far lower, though there is still plenty of unease over the ongoing global economic doldrums.
26 Companies, 1,223 Employees
on Unpaid Leave
According to government statistics, 26 companies had given a combined 1,233 employees unpaid leave in September, the highest number for a single month since February 2014.
Most of the 26 companies are small- and- medium enterprises, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) said.
Lu Cheng- hua, the directorgeneral of the MOEA’s Industrial Development Bureau, said Taiwan has experienced declines in exports over the past few months, and some manufacturers have seen a drop in orders and are operating well below capacity.
Government agencies are concerned about the unpaid leave trend and aside from setting up mechanisms to assist those affected, authorities are also providing assistance to the semiconductor, machinery, flat panel display, textile and vehicle sectors, hoping to stimulate exports, Lu said.
Situations in Science Park
At one of Taiwan’s main high- tech hubs, the Hsinchu Sciencebased Industrial Park, LED and panel manufacturers laid off a total of 241 employees in September, and only sapphire wafer manufacturer Tera XTAL Technology Corp. put employees on furlough.
A science park administration source said, however, that not all sectors were facing sluggish business and some manufacturers were even considering expanding their workforces.
He cited the prospects of the solar energy sector as having improved since the beginning of the third quarter, and manufacturers of modules and silicon wafers were planning to expand production capacity and increase employment.