Labor ministry activates program to help workers on unpaid leave

Taipei, Nov. 17 (CNA) The Ministry of Labor has activated a training program for workers on unpaid leave to help them cope with their predicament at a time when more than 5,000 people have been forced to take time off without pay, the most in three years.

The ministry said on Tuesday that the program, which targets companies with employees on unpaid leave, was activated in late October.

Under the program, employees take part in training classes and receive training subsidies during their time off to mitigate the impact of the forced vacations without pay.

According to the latest Ministry of Labor statistics, 52 companies have asked 5,292 employees to take unpaid leave in November, up from 4,074 employees from 12 companies reported in October.

It was the most people on unpaid leave in Taiwan since the end of December 2012, when 4,450 were asked by their employers to take time off without pay. The ministry attributed the sharp increase to the large number of workers furloughed by Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd., and it said it has asked the Taoyuan City government to keep a close eye on the situation.

The ministry will continue to stay on top of the situation and work closely with local labor departments to deal with the issue and safeguard the rights of workers, it said. (By Zoe Wei and Lilian Wu)