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Policies & Regulations Ministry of Labor Offers Tuition Fee Subsidies for Children of Unemployed Workers to Reduce Their Economic Burden

In order to ensure that the children of unemployed workers can attend school uninterruptedly, the Ministry of Labor has formulated the "Implementation Directions for Subsidizing the Education of Children of Unemployed Workers". Since 2003, in line with the beginning of both semesters throughout the school year, the Ministry has been providing tuition fee subsidies every February and September to children of involuntarily unemployed workers enrolled in senior high schools, vocational schools, colleges, or universities.

The Ministry of Labor stipulates that applications for tuition fee subsidies may be submitted by any involuntarily unemployed worker whose period of unemployment has exceeded one month and who has received more than one month of unemployment benefits; whose joint total income with their spouse is less than NT$1.48 million; who has not applied for old-age benefits under labor insurance; who has not participated in the Multi-Employment Promotion Program or any other similar employment promotion measure/program as of the date of application; and whose children are currently and officially enrolled in a senior high school, vocational school, college, or university. Subsidy amounts are detailed in Table 1.

Table 1 Tuition fee subsidies for children of unemployed workers (Note: Calculated per student per semester)

Category Public Private
Senior High School/Vocational School NT$4,000 NT$6,000
College/University NT$10,000 NT$20,000

In addition, those unemployed workers who are sole breadwinners of the family or have two or more children in college or university will receive an additional 20% subsidy. For example, if a worker has two children attending private universities at the same time, each child receives NT$20,000 plus an addition 20% for a total of NT$48,000.

Key words: Unemployed Workers, Involuntary Unemployment, Tuition Fee Subsidy

Policies & Regulations Five-day Work Week Reduces Overwork and Number of Working Hours

The Ministry of Labor has stated that the Labor Standards Act has been amended to thoroughly implement the five-day work week and lower the threshold for taking annual paid leave, thereby improving basic labor rights, ensuring that workers are entitled to adequate rest, and reducing the phenomenon of overwork. It is imperative that employers and workers collaborate to improve labor conditions.

In addition to the establishment of the five-day work week, the implementation of the amended Labor Standards Act should take into account the supplementary measures of the “calculation criteria for increased overtime wages on rest days” and “inclusion of rest day working hours to total number of extended working hours.” Use of the “Total Amount Control method for calculating working hours” and the “Control Amount by Price method for calculating cost of wages” will motivate employers to be more prudent when requesting workers to work on rest days. This will reduce the probability of overwork and effectively ensure that workers are entitled to the five-day work week.

The Ministry of Labor further stated that, in the current amendments, workers who have worked for the same employer for six months or more but less than one year are now entitled to three days of annual paid leave; the amount of annual paid leave for those who have worked for the same employer for less than five years has also been increased. Regulations stipulating that “annual paid leave shall in principle be arranged by workers” and “employers should inform workers to arrange annual paid leave” further ensure that workers are free to decide on which days to take their annual paid leave. These measures serve to better protect worker rights to paid leave and effectively decrease the number of working hours.

The Ministry of Labor reiterates that the purpose of this amendment is to implement the five-day work week. In the long run, it is certain to help prevent overwork and lower the number of working hours. Workers who maintain a healthy balance between work and family are better able to focus on their tasks and duties. This improves productivity and enables companies to earn more profit, and is therefore also beneficial to businesses and corporations.

Key words: Five-day Work Week, Working Hours, Wages

News Outlook Equal Pay Day Observed on February 21, 2017, Two Days Earlier Than Last Year

In order to raise public awareness for equal pay for men and women, the Ministry of Labor has once again announced Equal Pay Day for this year. Since average salaries for different genders depend on a number of factors such as nature of the job, seniority, qualification,experience, and job performance, the Ministry is calling on all sectors to work together in narrowing the gender pay gap.

Taiwan's Equal Pay Day is based on the Employee Salary Survey conducted by the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics ,Executive Yuan and reflects the number of days women must additionally work in the current year to earn the same amount as what men did in the previous year. In 2016, women earned an average hourly salary of NT$264.6, 86% of men's hourly rate of NT$307.7. The gender pay gap was 14%. In other words, women need to work 52 days more than men to receive the same total annual salary. Using this formula, it was determined that Equal Pay Day fell on February 21 for 2017, two days earlier than February 23 of the previous year and marking a slight reduction in the gender pay gap.

Over the past decade, the gender pay gap for average hourly salaries has fallen from 18.8% in 2006 to 14% in 2016, and the extra number of days women have to work has reduced from 69 days to 52 days. The average gender pay gap decreased 4.8 percentage points or 17 working days.

Key words: Equal Pay Day, Average Hourly Rate, Gender Pay Gap

News Outlook Conducting Joint Inspections on Travel Agencies and Tour Bus Companies to Protect the Labor Rights and Interests of Drivers and Ensure Public Safety

In order to prevent future casualties and fatalities caused by tour bus accidents from occurring, protect the labor rights and interests of drivers, and ensure public safety, the Ministry of Labor, Ministry of Transportation and Communications, and the Consumer Protection Committee (Executive Yuan) announced on February 16 the Travel Agency and Tour Bus Industry Joint Inspection Project. The relevant agencies will carry out inspections to ensure, supervise and urge industry comply with laws governing labor, traffic, and consumer protection.

Kuo Kuo-wen, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Labor, stated that tour bus drivers often drive while fatigue due to travel itineraries, schedules, and long distances. This endangers both passenger and public safety. In order to effectively urge the industry to implement safety regulations, from now on priority will be given to joint inspections on businesses that are frequent offenders, have incurred serious violations or performed poorly in evaluations. Inspections will focus on the number of working hours and leave, overwork prevention measures, vehicle dispatch orders, rental contracts, driving records, and whether or not itineraries and schedules are appropriately arranged. Any violations will be penalized in accordance with the law and reviews are to be scheduled for within the next three months.

The Ministry of Labor reiterates that no business entity has the right to infringe upon any person's labor rights and interests for any reason whatsoever. If an entity regularly infringes upon labor rights and interests or endangers public safety in a bid to earn more profit, they will be punished severely in accordance with the law, the most severe of which would be suspension of business operations or revocation of their licenses.

Key words: Travel Agencies, Tour Buses, Joint Inspection

News Outlook Ministry of Labor Holds Hair and Beauty Industry Social Dialogue with Representatives to Promote Industrial and Academic Cooperation, Stabilize Employment, and Increase Salaries

The Ministry of Labor and the Taiwan Union of Hair and Beauty Professionals Association held the Hair and Beauty Industry Social Dialogue meeting on February 9, 2017. Representatives from hair and beauty industry unions, hair and beauty business entities (approximately 40 entities), the Chungyu Institute of Technology and other educational institutions, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Health and Welfare were all in attendance. A consensus was reached to focus on industrial and educational cooperation, stabilize employment, and increase salaries.

The representative from the Taiwan Confederation of Hair and Beauty Professional Unions stated that the dialogue was initiated due to the need to enhance education so industry professionals are better equipped with skills and knowledge of international standards, and students are better able to apply their knowledge in a professional capacity. Efforts in this direction will effectively resolve issues currently faced by the industry.

Representatives from business entities concurred with the idea of industrial and educational cooperation and are willing to invest resources, provide students with practical training courses and increase the salaries of those who are accredited by 7% to 11%. School delegates also expressed the opinion that industry-education cooperation will enable graduates to be professionally competent and fully employable.

The Ministry of Labor has created a communication platform through social dialogue. Comprehensive communication with and between social partners ensures that both industry and education voluntarily engage in the improvement of both the professional skills and salaries of industry personnel. These efforts will inspire the younger generations to pursue careers within the industry, increase the quality of their services, enhance their competitiveness and create mutually beneficial outcomes for both labor and management.

Key words: Labor Unions, Social Dialogue, Industry-Education Cooperation

News Outlook iCAP Logo--A Talent Cultivation Tool that Stands for Quality Training

In response to the demand for organizational and employee talent development, in recent years the Ministry of Labor's Workforce Development Agency has been promoting quality accreditation for competency-based training programs and awarding the iCAP logo to programs that pass quality accreditation. By attending iCAP accredited training programs, participants will receive trainings on the newest skills currently on demand within their industries, thereby improving their personal career competency.

The biggest difference between competency-based programs and regular training courses is that institutes at which training are offered need to first analyze industry demand and positioning strategies, then assess a student's learning outcomes based on occupational competency standards established by government agencies or develop and provide training programs through the five-stage ADDIE process: Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation. Institutes may apply for accreditation only upon completion of the aforementioned procedures. To ensure that program quality and contents fulfill industry needs and standards, the Workforce Development Agency will invite industry and competency experts to conduct accreditation reviews. This guarantees that programs on offer effectively enhance student competencies and that talent cultivation is in sync with industry demand.

The Workforce Development Agency has additionally compiled curriculum development guides and quality accreditation operational guidelines as references for training institutions. Professional staff members specializing in career competency have also been trained by the Agency to assist in the development of competency-based programs in various industries. Please visit the Integrated Competency and Application Platform (http://icap.wda.gov.tw) for more information.

Key words: Competency, iCAP, Human Resource Development