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September 23, 2017

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Labor minister shelves talk on paid-leave reform

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- During a budget hearing at the Legislative Yuan, Wednesday, Nov. 30, Minister of Labor Kuo Fong-yu (郭芳煜) said it was "not the right time" to propose an annual paid leave plan.

Kuo said the Ministry of Labor must work step by step to address issues related to vacation days, national holidays and paid leave. "Handling too many things at once is not good," Kuo said.

The lack of follow-up on the annual paid leave plan comes on the heels of protests against the elimination of seven national holidays for workers.

A paid leave plan was supposed to compensate for the loss of seven holidays by giving workers time off, New Power Party Legislator Hwang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) said.

Hwang hosted a public hearing Wednesday to discuss the creation of a standardized process through which workers could file labor-related grievances.

Hwang called for the establishment of a labor law court that would regulate all matters related to workers' rights and compensation and would be able to speedily address important labor issues, including paid leave and the elimination of seven national holidays.

Academic experts testified to the need for the court and made suggestions for how it may be implemented.

 Lin Chia-ho (林佳和), an assistant professor at National Chengchi University, contrasted Taiwan's current system to Germany's system for addressing workers' disputes. Lin said that it would cost "85 times more in Taiwan to settle a labor dispute than it would in Germany."

 Hwang and Lin both said the process for addressing any labor issue is currently extremely lengthy. For instance, there is no legal code in place that sets a statute of limitations on filing an unlawful termination lawsuit in Taiwan.

 In response to calls for the establishment of a labor law court, representatives from both the Judicial Yuan and the Ministry of Labor insisted that both parties were committed to facilitating a process through which workers could file complaints and settle disputes.

Hwang, who chaired the meeting, asked the Ministry of Labor to present its recommendations on the new labor act and the proposed labor law court, demands for which date back almost a decade.

DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) also commented on the protest that had erupted over the lack of a government proposal for holidays and paid leave.

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