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Firms can't reject staff leave due to H1N1: CLA

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Employers with at least five staff members should not turn down employees' requests for leave of absence in order to take care of family members who are infected with the A(H1N1) virus or their children whose schools are temporarily closed because of H1N1 infections, according to the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA).

Those who violate the regulation will be subject to a fine of NT$10,000 to NT$100,000, CLA officials said.

They made the clarification when schools opened for a new semester and the Ministry of Education (MOE) has adopted criteria for schools to suspend classes in a move to protect students and prevent spread of the new flu.

CLA officials said the rule applies to all employers of five or more workers and companies cannot reject workers' requests for taking days off.

Each worker is entitled to up to seven days of “family care” leave per year for such purposes as stipulated in the law, but they will not be paid for the periods of absence, the officials said.

Employees working at small firms or organizations can also take such leaves of absence on grounds that they have certain matters to attend to, they said.

Employers should not attempt any elaborate efforts to reject or discourage such requests from the staff.

They said employers or employees can always contact the CLA at Tel: 0800-085-151 in case dispute or disagreement takes place.

Officials at a laborers organization said most employers would not turn down employees' requests because they do not have to pay the wages during the absence.

But they said it would be in employees' best interest to avoid disputes or controversies if they can present doctors' medical reports concerning family members' infection or the notices on class suspension issued by schools.

Executives at many enterprises in the private sector said they will approve staff's request for leaves concerning the flu cases when they are needed by their families.

This will help prevent the spreading of swine flu that may pose threat to both companies and public health, they said.

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