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Lawmakers fail to reach consensus on paid leave bill

2012/05/21 21:35:34

Taipei, May 21 (CNA) Lawmakers failed to reach a consensus Monday on an amendment to the Gender Equality in Employment Act that would allow employees in the private sector to take paid leave to take care of their children in the event of a natural disaster.

Lawmakers on the Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee failed to reach a consensus on the number of days and types of circumstances under which company employees could take time off to care for their children under the age of 12.

A group of legislators from across party lines will continue to negotiate the amendment's details in search for common ground.

The issue surfaced in August 2011 when local authorities announced its decision to cancel classes but not work as Typhoon Nanmadol slammed through southern Taiwan. Many parents complained at the time that they were unable to look after their children.

Current regulations stipulate that workers can only take unpaid causal leave when their family members are ill or need to be taken care of.

The Cabinet has proposed allowing workers in the private sector to take paid leave to be with their children under the age of 12 when their children's classes are canceled because of typhoons or other natural disasters.

But opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers have argued that the Cabinet's proposal is unfair given that government employees are allowed to take seven days off per year to take care of their families, five of which are paid.

DPP Legislator Chen Chieh-ju also said the Cabinet should consider including mentally and physically challenged children who are older than 12 years among the children that parents could take time off to care for during a disaster.

Labor Minister Wang Ju-hsuan said, however, that giving workers in the private sector five additional days of paid leave per year would cost domestic employers an estimated NT$38.16 billion (US$1.28 billion).

Because the government did not feel businesses should be saddled with the extra cost, it proposed to permit paid leave for employees only in the event of typhoons and natural disasters, Wang said.

(By Chen Wei-ting and Ann Chen)
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