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July 24, 2017

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Foreign caregivers deserve minimum wage hike

The Ministry of Labor (MOL, 勞動部) recently announced plans to raise the minimum wage for foreign in-home caregivers from NT$15,840 to NT$19,273, in line with the nation's newly adjusted minimum wage for all Taiwanese workers. We more than welcome this decision, which will benefit more than 200,000 people and mandate that their employers give them eight hours of continuous rest every day. At the same time, we feel concerned by the idea that employers will now be given the choice of deducting NT$2,500 in food and accommodation fees from their monthly wage, meaning that most caregivers would eventually receive NT$933 more per month as opposed to NT$3,433. That is regrettable.

Foreign caregivers surely deserve this minimum wage hike because their salaries have remained stuck at NT$15,840 for 17 years despite the country's soaring rates of inflation. Prior to 1997, their wages were adjusted in accordance with increases in the national minimum wage. But after a decade of wage stagnation, the government moved to increase the minimum wage of Taiwanese workers in 2007 and opted not to increase the wages of foreigners, meaning the de facto creation of two minimum wages. Three years ago, the MOL then proposed a draft bill to adjust foreign and local caregivers' wages according to the national minimum wage. The document was submitted to the Executive Yuan, but further progress was not made, angering activists who said that in-home caregivers were being deprived of their human rights. That issue has now been properly addressed.

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