Number of furloughed workers hits high on overseas lockdowns

06/16/2020 07:59 PM
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CNA file photo for illustrative purpose only.
CNA file photo for illustrative purpose only.

Taipei, June 16 (CNA) The number of furloughed workers in Taiwan hit a new high of 29,838 as of Monday, with many export-oriented companies suffering deteriorating business at a time when COVID-19 has led to massive lockdowns overseas, forcing foreign clients to suspend operations, the Ministry of Labor (MOL) said Tuesday.

Data released by the ministry showed the number of workers who agreed with their employers to take unpaid leave rose 1,493 in seven days to reach 29,838 as of June 15, the highest level since the ministry started to compile the statistics in January 2009.

As of June 15, a total of 1,323 companies had implemented unpaid leave programs, up 60 from 1,263 on June 7, the data showed.

Huang Wei-chen (黃維琛), deputy director of the MOL's Department of Labor Standards and Equal Employment, said the manufacturing sector registered an increase of 31 in the number of employers with furlough programs, as many of their foreign clients have been forced to halt operations by lockdowns introduced to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Huang said the Ministry of Economic Affairs is planning to draft measures to help local exporters find new clients to offset the impact of declining orders from existing clients.

As for domestic demand oriented industries, Huang said, the impact of the pandemic has been reduced by Taiwan's efforts to contain the spread of the virus. In addition, with many schools organizing graduation trips for students, local consumption shows signs of improving, Huang added.

As of June 15, the manufacturing sector recorded the highest number of furloughed workers at 15,037, up more than 1,300 in seven days, ahead of the wholesale and retail sector (5,175) and the transportation and warehousing sector (3,377), the data showed.

In terms of the number of employers introducing unpaid leave programs, the wholesale and retail sector had 413 companies, followed by the manufacturing sector (332) and the hospitality and food/beverage sector (139), the data indicated.

Most of the companies implementing unpaid leave are small enterprises with workforces of fewer than 50 people, according to the ministry.

These unpaid leave programs typically last for fewer than three months and involve employees taking five to eight days of unpaid leave per month, the MOL said

(By Chang Hsiung-feng and Frances Huang)

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