Number of furloughed workers in Taiwan passes 10,000

06/24/2021 05:10 PM
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CNA photo June 24, 2021
CNA photo June 24, 2021

Taipei, June 24 (CNA) The number of furloughed workers in Taiwan increased by more than 3,800 over the past week, bringing the total to 10,229, amid an extended national Level 3 alert aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19, according to data released Thursday by the Ministry of Labor (MOL).

Among the businesses that reported unpaid leave programs to the labor ministry, the lodging and food/beverage industry saw the number of furloughed workers rise from 972 on June 16 to 2,864.

According to the MOL, 105 additional companies in the lodging and food/beverage sector implemented furlough programs, bringing the total to 175.

In total, the number of employees on unpaid leave rose by 3,846 from June 16 to 10,229, while an additional 362 businesses implemented furlough programs, bringing the number to 987 nationwide, the MOL said.

During the week, the number of furloughed workers in the retail and wholesale industry rose from 944 to 1,559.

Huang Wei-chen (黃維琛), director of the MOL's Department of Labor Standards and Equal Employment, told CNA that the Level 3 restrictions have dealt a blow to the lodging and food/beverage, retail and wholesale industries, sending the number of employees in the sectors on unpaid leave significantly higher.

The COVID-19 control measures also led to a fall in visits to seek dental, cosmetic medicare and rehabilitation services, causing an increase in furloughed employees in the healthcare and social service sectors over the past week, Huang added.

New Taipei, a COVID-19 hotspot, saw the largest increase in the number of furloughed workers, up from 1,419 to 2,512, during the week, followed by Yilan, rising sharply from 82 to 914, as it is the home of many travel and hospitality businesses which have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Huang.

The ministry usually updates its furloughed worker data on the 1st, 8th, 16th and 24th of every month. The numbers cover only unpaid leave plans that are reported to the ministry by companies. Most of the enterprises implementing furlough programs are small firms with workforces of fewer than 50 people.

These unpaid leave programs typically last less than three months and involve employees taking five to eight days of unpaid leave per month.

However, some of the unpaid leave programs during the past week have involved employees taking 13 to 16 days of unpaid leave per month, because many operators in the lodging and food/beverage industry and at nursing and childcare centers have been forced to suspend operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic woes.

The Central Epidemic Command Center imposed a national COVID-19 Level 3 alert on May 19 and announced on June 7 an extension of the alert to June 28. On Wednesday, the alert was further extended to July 12.

Under the alert, the government has banned indoor gatherings of more than four people and outdoor gatherings of more than nine, while also mandating the closure of schools and many public venues and advising people where possible to stay at home.

(By Wu Hsin-yun and Evelyn Kao)

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