The Ministry of Labor (MOL) has defined companies' year-end banquets as an extra-curricular activity that employees are not required to attend, but said the workers assigned to organize the "weiya," as it is called, are entitled to overtime pay if their duties extend beyond work hours.
In a statement issued Sunday, the MOL said the year-end banquet, usually held before the Chinese New Year, is a tradition in Taiwan that is meant to thank employees for their work over the past year.
"A weiya is a joyful celebration in which workers can participate freely if they wish," the MOL said. "No one is obliged to attend the weiya because it is an extra-curricular activity, therefore, there is no issue of overtime pay."
This year's weiya season is entering its peak next week, with only 20 days to go to Chinese New Year's day on Jan. 28.
In a United Daily News report later in the day, MOL officials were cited as saying that employees assigned to help organize their company's year-end banquet will be entitled to overtime pay if their duties extend beyond work hours, or to compensatory time off if they work on a government-designated rest day.
A fine of between NT$20,000 (US$624) and NT$1 million will be imposed on employers who demand that their staff attend the banquet or force their workers to apply for leave if they cannot attend, the MOL official said in the report, citing the new labor regulations.
In cases where the banquet is held during regular work hours, employees who choose not to attend should remain on the job, the official said in the report.
Taiwan's government recently implemented a set of new labor regulations, under which the maximum work hours have been reduced from 84 hours every two weeks to 40 hours a week and employees are entitled to one mandatory day off and one "flexible" rest day each week. The new rules stipulate that employees can agree to work on the the flex day, but must be paid overtime.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel