Labor ministry urged to address migrant worker disability claim issues

01/25/2022 08:28 PM
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Control Yuan members Wang Mei-yu (left) and Wang Yu-ling. CNA photo Jan. 25, 2022
Control Yuan members Wang Mei-yu (left) and Wang Yu-ling. CNA photo Jan. 25, 2022

Taipei, Jan. 25 (CNA) The Ministry of Labor (MOL) was urged by the Control Yuan to improve its monitoring of migrant worker employees after a report revealed that many who became disabled as a result of occupational accidents in Taiwan did not claim disability compensation after going home.

The Control Yuan, Taiwan's top government watchdog body, made the request after approving an investigative report produced by two of its 27 members including the Control Yuan president.

Unclaimed compensation benefits owed to disabled migrant workers as a result of occupational accidents in Taiwan reached NT$40 million (US$1.44 million) over the past 10 years, said Control Yuan member Wang Mei-yu (王美玉) at a press conference in Taipei Tuesday.

The situation is a national disgrace in terms of efforts to protect migrant workers, she said when releasing an investigative report written by her and Wang Yu-ling (王幼玲), also a member of the Control Yuan.

Taiwan currently has about 700,000 migrant workers, after first opening its doors to foreign workers more than 30 years ago. From 2015-2018, the rate of migrant worker disability caused by occupational accidents in the manufacturing sector was double that of local workers, Wang Yu-ling said.

An investigation found that from 2016-2020, a total of 1,087 migrant workers with employment permits received disability compensation benefits, with 512 having terminated their employment contracts, she noted.

According to the report, over 50 percent of migrant workers who were eligible to claim disability pensions and had returned to their home country stopped receiving pension payments.

This was due to difficulties in claiming their disability living allowance due to complicated application procedures stipulated in the Labor Insurance Disability Benefit Payment Standards and the Act for Protecting Worker of Occupational Accidents, according to the report.

Wang Mei-yu said the high amount of unclaimed disability benefits owed to migrant workers gives Taiwan a bad name and tarnishes its image.

The report also revealed a range of problems faced by migrant workers regarding disability claims and other forms of compensation after experiencing accidents on the job.

During one of their on-site visits, managers at a factory said without hesitation they usually assigned migrant workers to the more dangerous jobs, Wang Mei-yu said.

It was also discovered that some unscrupulous employers did not enroll their legally employed migrant workers in the labor insurance program, while others immediately filed applications to withdraw their migrant workers from the program after they suffered disabilities or injuries from occupational accidents, according to Wang Mei-yu.

In addition, most of those disabled or injured in occupational accidents were often replaced by newcomers, she said.

According to Wang Yu-ling, after conducting on-site visits and interviewing eight migrant workers disabled by occupational accidents, it was found that their employers largely failed to arrange medical care or provide compensation. They also did not help them with vocational rehabilitation, which is in violation of the Labor Standards Act.

(By Chen Chun-hua and Evelyn Kao)

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