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Several new regulations to take effect in Taiwan on Jan. 1

2016/12/30 23:02:20

Taipei, Dec. 30 (CNA) Taiwan will implement a slew of new measures on Jan. 1, including higher monthly and hourly minimum wages, an increase in the number of annual leave days for workers, and more stringent food labeling regulations.

The monthly minimum wage in Taiwan will be increased from NT$20,008 (US$618) to NT$21,009 with effect from Jan. 1, while the hourly minimum wage will be increased from NT$126 to NT$133. The wage increases are expected to extend to about 1.62 million employees.

An amendment to the Labor Standards Act will also be implemented, mandating a five-day work week for all workers in Taiwan who are covered by the Act and reducing the number of annual national holidays from 19 to 12 days to partly offset the reduction in work hours.

Before the revision, the Act had specified a maximum of 84 hours of work over a two-week period.

Taiwan will also increase annual leave for workers, from zero to three days for employees who have worked at least six months but less than a year; from seven to 10 days for employees who have worked at least two years but less than three years; from 10 to 14 days for those who have worked at least three years but less than five years; and from 14 to 15 days for employees who have worked at least five years but less than 10 years.

●Postal Service:
The new labor regulations will result in the closure of Saturday services at about half of the 287 Chunghwa Post offices that currently open on Saturdays.

Also on Jan. 1, a new air quality standard will be introduced, requiring all municipalities except Taitung to take steps to reduce their levels of fine particle (PM2.5) pollution. Another environmental measure will be a ban on smoking at all 932 bus stops in Taipei from Jan. 1. However, no penalties will be imposed until March 1, when violators will be subject to a fine of between NT$2,000 and NT$10,000.

A new regulation regarding utility bills will also take effect on Jan. 1, allowing a NT$3 reduction on water bills that are issued online at the request of the consumers.

●Food Safety:
In the food industry, Taiwan will also tighten labeling regulations for cod, chocolates and Semen Coicis to improve food safety.

For example, products labeled as dark sweet chocolate must contain at least 35 percent cocoa solids, and only fish classified as Gadiformes should be labeled as cod, the new regulations specify. Violators will be subject to fines of between NT$30,000 and NT$4 million.

Meanwhile, pregnant passengers or drivers will no longer be subject to the high-occupancy vehicle policy on freeways in Taiwan, a new rule that aims to allow pregnant women to commute more comfortably on the freeway rather than on provincial highways.

Also in the field of transportation, people who have been convicted of sexual crimes against children and youth will be banned from registering as taxi drivers, with effect from Jan. 1.

●Child Care:
New regulations will also be applied in social areas to help reduce the financial burden on citizens, for example, allowing greater accessibility to public kindergartens.

The government plans to increase the number of public kindergarten classes by 1,000 by 2020, and raise enrollment in such classes from 30 percent to 40 percent of the total over the next four years.

●Airport landing fees:
In an effort to attract more carriers to Taiwan's smaller airports, landing fees will be reduced by 20 percent at the country's airports, excluding Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and Taipei Songshan Airport.

●Law Enforcement:
In the area of law enforcement, the Supreme Prosecutors Office's Special Investigation Division, which was established in 2007 to investigate allegations of corruption by senior government and military officials, will be dissolved with effect from Jan. 1.

On the international cooperation front, Taiwan's double taxation avoidance agreements with Canada and Japan will take effect on Jan. 1.

(By Christie Chen)