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Lawmakers propose labor act amendments on overwork

2012/05/01 20:39:58

Taipei, May 1 (CNA) Legislators have proposed Labor Safety and Health Act amendments under which employers will face criminal liability for illegally extending working hours for employees, opposition Democratic Progressing Party (DPP) lawmaker Liu Chien-kuo said Tuesday.

Draft amendments to Article 5 of the act will require employers to implement preventive measures to keep employees from being injured or becoming ill through stressful working conditions such as rotational shifts, night shifts, and long working hours, said Liu at a Labor Day Legislative Yuan press conference to support a victim of overwork.

The draft amendments were proposed by Liu, ruling Kuomintang Legislator Chen Shieh-saint, and Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Lin Shih-chia.

Moreover, the Cabinet should abolish Article 84-1 of the Labor Standards Act. The article permits a system of "designated responsibility," which allows employers to avoid paying overtime, Liu added. Under the system, employers can set tasks that must be completed before the employee can leave the workplace, no matter how long the work takes.

In Taiwan, there is a reported case of worker safety issues or occupational hazard every 13 minutes on average, Liu said.

"Criminal liability for employers who overwork their employees is insufficient,"said the mother of a worker surnamed Kuo, who is paralyzed as a result of overwork.

Kuo's family members said at the press conference that they are still in a compensation lawsuit with his former company because the company refuses to recognize Kuo was a victim of overwork as determined by the Council of Labor Affairs two years ago.

Kuo was working 16 hours per day as a sales manager at an electronics company. In 2007, he fainted suddenly at work and was diagnosed by the hospital as suffering an acute brain hemorrhage and kidney damage, his family said.

DPP Legislator Lin Shu-fen said the central government's Occupational Illness Certification Committee should include worker representatives who can participate in workplace inspections.

(By Wen Kuei-hsiang and C.J. Lin)