Taipei, April 19 (CNA) Labor Minister Wang Ju-hsuan said Thursday it is not possible at the moment to allow all senior citizens over the age of 80 to employ caregivers from other countries as this would make Taiwan over-reliant on foreign labor.
If Taiwan allows all 500,000 of its over-80 citizens to hire foreign caregivers, the number of such workers in the country may rise from the current 420,000 to more than 1 million, Wang said.
In the long run, Taiwan would become over-reliant on migrant workers, which in turn would cause imbalances in the supply of local labor, she said in response to calls by some lawmakers and members of the public to relax the restrictions on hiring foreign caregivers.
Wang said the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA ) will review the restrictions from the perspectives of the long-term development of Taiwan's care-giving system, protection of the jobs of local workers and consideration for those families that have already employed foreign caregivers.
Ruling Kuomintang Legislator Yang Yu-hsin suggested Thursday that the CLA extend its foreign caregiver eligibility rules to include severely physically disabled individuals over 50 and households with two moderately physically disabled individuals of any age.
In response, Wang said an inter-ministerial meeting will be held early next week to review the terms of eligibility, such as age and disability assessment.
Currently, applicants seeking to obtain foreign caregiver services are evaluated using the Barthel index, under which eligible applicants have to be almost totally unable to carry out the activities of daily living.
The wage for foreign caregivers is usually relatively lower than that for local caregivers.
Meanwhile, Wang said Thursday the labor council is working toward raising the minimum monthly wage to NT$20,000 (US$677.9) this year.
Taiwan's current monthly minimum wage is NT$18,780 (US$636.61), while the hourly minimum wage is NT$103.
(By Zoe Wei and Jamie Wang)