Changes to six-day working week legislation could affect 4.3 million Taiwanese

Author: PM editorial | Date: 21 Sep 2016

Government argues that the nature of some professions means they need to work up to 12 consecutive days

A change to Taiwan’s six-day working week policy means that some employees could be asked to work up to 12 days in a row.
 
The country’s Ministry of Labour has said that more than six consecutive days of work will not become the norm, but some professions must be allowed exemptions to the six-day policy.
 
Around 4.3 million Taiwanese workers could be affected, but the ministry has promised such changes to working hours can only be made with the employee’s consent.
 
“When arranging shifts, employers should place utmost importance on the physical and mental health of workers,” deputy minister of labour Liau Huei-fang told the China Post. “Workers have the right to stop their extended workweeks any second, if they find it affecting their health.”
 
The legislation will allow exemptions for transportation and butchery workers providing services for the public over extended holidays, workers performing tasks abroad or in rural regions with extensive commuting time, and those working on boats, carriers or aircrafts or carrying out repairs to power plants.
 
Employers who are found to have forced staff to work longer than six days could be fined between NT$20,000 and NT$300,000.
 
One of the professions likely to be affected is journalism. During negotiations held before the new legislation was introduced, news media union representatives argued that companies should send more than one reporting team for long-term, overseas assignments. But media owners said that when there are only a limited number of press passes for an event, there is nothing they can do but ask the reporting team to complete the entire job — which often takes more than six days.
 
Tim Cheng, one of the organisers of the National Media Industry Union, questioned the new regulation, asking: “What employee would dare to say no if the boss makes a request?”