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Trial program for hourly foreign caregivers to start next year

2012/09/09 18:48:20

Taipei, Sept. 9 (CNA) Foreign caregivers will next year be allowed to work part time under a trial program based on relaxed regulations governing the hiring of such workers, a labor official said Sunday.

In anticipation of a possible increase in demand for foreign caregivers, the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) has come up with a trial program to allow people who are eligible under the new system to hire foreign caregivers to do so by the hour, said CLA official Fu Hui-chih.

After the new regulations take effect, senior citizens aged 80 or over, who score 60 or less on the Barthel Index -- a measurement of an individual's ability to perform daily functions -- will be eligible to hire foreign caregivers.

Current regulations stipulate that people are eligible to hire foreign caregivers, whose wages are much lower than Taiwanese caregivers, only if they suffer from one of 10 severe mental or physical disabilities, score lower than 35 on the index or require round-the-clock care -- criteria people have criticized for being too strict.

Foreign caregivers are presently only hired full time and their employers are responsible for providing food and accommodation, Fu said.

However, live-in foreign workers might have problems getting along with their employers, she added.

Under the planned program, foreign caregivers will be employed by nonprofit organizations, which will take most responsibility for them, according to Fu.

There will not be limits to how many hours eligible people can hire such caregivers, but they must abide by the Labor Standards Law and sign a contract with the organization.

Despite a slightly higher hourly payment, employers will not have to take so much responsibility for the caregivers, Fu said.

The council plans to invite local governments and non-profit organizations to discuss details of the program next month, including the hourly wage of foreign caregivers, she added.

(By Hsu Chih-wei and Kendra Lin)