Taipei, The Legislative Yuan passed the third reading of a draft amendment to the Labor Standards Act on Friday that is aimed at better protecting the rights of dispatch workers, many of whom are not considered by companies and government agencies that employ them as their official staff and therefore do not enjoy the same protection.
The newly amended law stipulates that labor contracts set up between dispatch workers and their agencies are contracts with indefinite durations and that their wages and job security should be regulated.
The move was made to prevent dispatch agencies from using contract periods as a fixed term, to circumvent their responsibility of paying a severance payment when they decide to terminate a dispatch worker's services.
According to a press release on the Ministry of Labor's website, after the amendment goes into effect, if dispatch agencies are found to be in violation by fixing a term on a dispatch worker's contract, they will face a fine of between NT$20,000 (US$647) and NT$1 million in accordance with the Labor Standards Act.
The amendment also stipulates that if dispatch agencies owe dispatch workers wages, the workers can hold client companies accountable and ask them to pay the wages within 30 days. Client companies can then ask for the money back from dispatch agencies or deduct it from the expenses payable within their contracts with the agencies.
There's an estimated 151,000 dispatch workers in Taiwan, according to Labor Minister Hsu Ming-chun during a legislative session April 22.
An August 21 report by the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei pointed out that dispatch workers in Taiwan often find themselves uncertain of who is "legally accountable for their wages, benefits, and other working conditions."
Much of the confusion stems from the fact that such workers hold employment contracts with their respective dispatch agencies instead of the client company they work for, the report said.
Some employers in Taiwan, including government agencies, also hire workers, including foreigners who are permanent residents, as contractors, which allows them to use loopholes in the laws to avoid paying the workers benefits.
Such practices go unpunished even though employers are required by law to enroll workers in health insurance, workers' insurance and pension plans, regardless of their nationality and part-time or full-time status.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel