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Number of furloughed workers doubles in 1st half of July

2017/07/17 16:41:42

Taipei, July 17 (CNA) The number of furloughed workers in Taiwan almost doubled in the first half of July from a half month earlier as local metal, electrical and mechanical industries placed more workers on unpaid leave, the Ministry of Labor (MOL) said on Monday.

As of July 15, the ministry said, the number of workers who had agreed with employers to take unpaid leave was 327, up 170 from the end of June.

In the first half of this month, a total of 14 employers introduced unpaid leave programs after reaching agreement with employees, up from four at the end of June, the MOL said.

In the 15 day period, two employers terminated their furlough programs but six others introduced new programs, the MOL said.

Wang Ching-jung (王金蓉), a specialist in the MOL's Labor Conditions and Equal Employment Division, said that of the six employers launching new furlough programs, three were from the metal, or electric and mechanical sectors, with the increased number of employers in the two sectors pushing up the number of total furloughed workers over the past 15 days.

The government releases data on unpaid leave twice a month to provide an update on local labor market conditions.

According to the MOI, most of the companies with employees on unpaid leave are small enterprises with workforces of fewer than 50 employees as of July 15, and all of the 14 employers with furloughed leave programs reached agreement with affected employees that they would take up to four days a month in unpaid leave for no more than three months.

Despite the increase in the number of furloughed workers in the first half of this year, the total tally indicates the local job market remains stable at a time when the domestic economy has been on the path to recovery, market analysts said.

Wang said the number of workers on unpaid leave always fluctuates, though he indicated the ministry will keep a close eye on the local labor market after the latest increase in furloughed workers.

In late May, the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) raised its forecast for gross domestic product (GDP) growth in Taiwan for 2017 from 1.92 percent to 2.05 percent.

Taiwan's jobless rate for May fell 0.01 percentage points from a month earlier to 3.66 percent, the lowest since May 2015, when the jobless rate stood at 3.62 percent.

The government has implemented a NT$20 billion (US$658 million) program to reduce the financial impact of furloughs on workers, offering training to upgrade job skills, the MOL said.

Under the program, trainees receive a stipend of NT$133 per hour to help meet their living expenses, up to a maximum of 100 hours per month, the ministry said.

Employees also have the option of taking online training courses available on the MOL's Skill Evaluation Center website, the ministry said.

(By Yu Hsiao-han and Frances Huang)