Number of furloughed workers up as service sector impacted by COVID-19

09/16/2020 08:26 PM
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CNA photo for illustrative purpose only Sept. 16, 2020
CNA photo for illustrative purpose only Sept. 16, 2020

Taipei, Sept. 16 (CNA) The number of furloughed workers in Taiwan rose by more than 1,500 in one week as border controls imposed to combat COVID-19 took a toll on the local service sector, the Ministry of Labor (MOL) said Wednesday.

Data compiled by the MOL showed the number of workers who reached an agreement with their employers to be placed on unpaid leave programs totaled 16,865 as of Sept. 15, up 1,566 from 15,299 recorded on Sept. 7.

In addition, the number of employers with unpaid leave programs increased by 174 to 840 during the Sept. 8-15 period, the data indicated.

Huang Wei-chen (黃維琛), deputy director of the MOL's Department of Labor Standards and Equal Employment, told reporters that due to the continued border controls, the retail/wholesale industry, logistics and warehousing operators and lodging and food/beverage businesses continue to feel the pinch from COVID-19.

In Taipei alone the number of employers implementing unpaid leave programs hit 160 in one week with the number of furloughed workers at more than 2,000, mainly from the travel industry, retail/wholesale industry and logistics businesses, Huang said.

The silver lining was that the pressure on the manufacturing sector to introduce unpaid leave programs fell over the past week as some manufacturers, such as machinery suppliers, stopped furlough programs on the back of relief efforts from the government, Huang added.

The MOL said the local manufacturing sector recorded the largest number of furloughed workers with 10,392 as of Sept. 15, down from 10,943 from a week ago, ahead of the retail and wholesale industry with 2,822, up from 2421.

The retail and wholesale industry recorded the highest number of employers with unpaid leave programs at 289, up from 224 a week earlier, followed by the manufacturing sector with 262, down from 263, the ministry added.

Most of the enterprises implementing furlough programs are small firms with workforces of fewer than 50 people. These unpaid leave programs typically last for fewer than three months and involve employees taking five to eight days of unpaid leave per month, according to the ministry.

The MOL updates the furloughed worker data on the 1st, 8th, 16th and 24th of every month. The numbers only cover unpaid leave plans put in place by companies that are reported to the ministry.

(By Wu Hsin-yun and Frances Huang)

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