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Shortening work week could harm businesses: business groups

2015/05/15 21:13:07

Lin Por-fong (林伯豐)

Taipei, May 15 (CNA) Shortening the work week in Taiwan without complementary measures could harm businesses, local industrial and business groups said Friday after Taiwan's Legislature passed the third reading of a law amendment that will cut the work week to 40 hours beginning next year.

Being approved in the third legislative reading means the proposed bill becomes the law. It will go into effect on Jan. 1 next year.

Lin Por-fong (林伯豐), chairman of the Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce, Taiwan, said he supports reducing the maximum work hours each week to 40 as that is the international trend, but is against capping the maximum number of overtime hours per month at 46 hours.

Monthly overtime hours should be capped at 60 hours instead, Lin said, to meet the needs of businesses during the peak season and off season.

With the 46-hour overtime cap, Lin said businesses will be forced to transfer their orders to overseas factories with cheaper labor costs, which will ultimately reduce job opportunities for Taiwanese workers.

The law amendment that was passed on Friday changes the maximum work week from 84 hours a fortnight to 40 hours a week.

Lin Hui-ying (林慧瑛), head of the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, also voiced concern about the new regulation.

During peak seasons, companies are bound to ask their employees to work overtime, but with a cap on maximum overtime hours, they will likely transfer their orders elsewhere, she said.

Small and medium-sized enterprises in Taiwan have a limited amount of capital and it would be a great burden for them to increase their workforce or pay more overtime hours, Lin said.

Local labor groups, however, see the new regulations as a step toward eradicating the problem of long work hours that Taiwan is notoriously known for.

"This is the first step for Taiwanese workers to break way from exceedingly long work hours," the Taiwan Labour Front said in a statement.

Lin Yu-min (林由敏), chief executive of the Chinese Personnel Executive Association, meanwhile, cautioned that the key to fixing the overwork problem in Taiwan is not merely cutting the work week.

It's whether the government can carry out labor inspections thoroughly and penalize law-breaking employers, Lin said.

(By Huang Chiao-wen and Christie Chen)