The National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME) on Thursday expressed its support for the government's decision to implement a five-day work week with one fixed day off and one flexible rest day, despite opposition from labor rights groups.
Speaking at a ceremony for the National Award of Outstanding SMEs, NASME President Lin Hui-ying (???) said small and medium enterprises badly need such a policy because it relates to their survival.
"We are giving full support to 'one fixed day off, one flexible rest day,'" she said.
President Tsai Ing-wen (???), who was also present at the ceremony, smiled on hearing Lin's remarks.
Tsai's administration is currently promoting an amendment to the Labor Standards Act that would implement a five-day, 80-hour work week with one fixed day off and one flexible rest day, while keeping the number of national holidays to which workers are entitled at 12.
In May 2015, when the Kuomintang still had a majority in the Legislature, lawmakers passed an amendment guaranteeing a five-day work week for all workers in Taiwan for the first time, to take effect on Jan. 1, 2016.
The law had previously mandated a maximum of 84 hours work over a two-week period.
The Enforcement Rules of the Labor Standards Act were then revised in December 2015 to reduce the number of national holidays from 19 to 12 days to partly offset the reduction in work hours.
However, shortly after taking office on May 20 this year, with labor groups demonstrating for more time off and benefits, the Democratic Progressive Party government vowed to reinstate the seven holidays.
Following several twists and turns in policy, the government opted for an amendment that would implement a 40-hour week with more generous overtime rules for the two weekly days off than under the previous provisions.
The amendment also designated one of the two days off a "flexible" day off and the other a "compulsory" day off.
If workers work on the "flexible" day off, they are entitled to higher overtime pay; if they work on the "compulsory" day off, they receive a matching day off at a later date.
However, labor rights groups are angry that Tsai's administration has gone back on its promise to restore the number of national holidays to 19.
Premier Lin Chuan (??) said on Thursday that "differences are inevitable" over the issue and the government will do its best to strike a balance.
Although the government wants to address the problem of overwork among workers, it also needs to create a healthy business environment for enterprises, he said.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel