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September, 26, 2016

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Labor Ministry backtracks on typhoon days

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Two months after supporting the idea of giving workers days off when typhoons hit, Labor Minister Kuo Fong-yu (郭芳煜) said Thursday that no other "major countries" give storm holidays, stating that writing them into labor law required further evaluation.

On July 11, when responding to a lawmaker about whether he supports the inclusion of typhoon days into labor laws, Kuo said "the labor ministry supports the idea."

During his report at the Legislative Yuan Thursday, Kuo told local reporters that after news that certain department stores had forced employees to work without extra pay during last week's typhoons sparked outrage, Premier Lin Chuan (林全) requested that the Ministry of Labor (MOL, 勞動部) carry out reevaluations.

Labor groups and lawmakers previously called for a revision of the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) to give employees a mandatory day off on days when typhoons hit — entitling those who work on typhoon days to one day's pay or a compensatory day off.

"But there are two principles to keep in mind when dealing with this issue. First, typhoons are natural disasters and cannot be attributed to either workers or their employers. None of the major nations in the world list typhoon days as holidays," said Kuo.

"Second, occupations can be vastly different from one another, and the public has particular needs for certain services," said Kuo. "It requires further evaluation on whether setting a single standard for all workers is feasible."

The ministry previously invited academics and experts to share their thoughts about incorporating typhoon holidays into labor laws, but attendees also agreed that varying circumstances across occupations would pose challenges, Kuo said.

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