Taiwan sees spike in furloughed workers due to COVID 19

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Taipei: The number of workers on unpaid leave in Taiwan rose sharply to 1,604 in the last two weeks of February, due mainly to the effects of the novel coronavirus outbreak on the economy, the Ministry of Labor (MOL) said Monday.

As of Feb. 29, the number of workers who had agreed to go on furlough jumped by 735 to 1,604, compared with 869 in the first two weeks of February, according to MOL statistics.

Meanwhile, the number of employers implementing unpaid leave also increased in the second half of February, spiking from 22 in the previous two weeks to 40, the MOL data showed.

During the 15 day period, three employers ended their unpaid leave programs, but 21 others launched new programs agreed upon by management and employees, bringing the total to 40, the data showed.

More than 50 percent of the companies with employees on unpaid leave in the last two weeks of February were businesses in the metal/electromechanical industry, including the manufacturers of parts and components and machine tools, according to Huang Wei chen (???), deputy director of the MOL's Department of Labor Standards and Equal Employment.

Most of the companies implementing unpaid leave are small enterprises with a workforce of fewer than 50 people, and their unpaid leave programs typically last for less than three months, with their employees each agreeing to take up to four days of unpaid leave per month, according to the MOL.

The latest figures reflect the effects of the novel coronavirus (COVID 19) on the country's tourism/hospitality, restaurant and catering, and wholesale and retail industries, Huang said.

The MOL said, however, that employers have been instructed to pay their furloughed employees at least NT$23,100 (US$733) per month, which is the minimum wage, so that the workers can maintain their living standards.

The ministry's Workforce Development Agency has in place a program to subsidize companies that offer on the job training to furloughed workers to upgrade their job skills, he said.

Under the program, employers can apply for subsidies to hold training sessions, with each employee eligible to receive NT$158 per hour for attending a maximum 120 hours of training per month, according to Huang.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel