Employers can be fined NT$1 million for forcing workers to take leave instead overtime pay

Employers will be fined NT$1 million if they try to force workers to take compensatory leave instead of overtime pay

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(Image from Max Pixel)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- In response to concerns that the new amendment to the Labor Standards Act could result in workers being forced to take compensatory leave instead of receive overtime pay, Deputy Minister of Labor Shih Keh-her (施克和) at a press conference yesterday that companies that unilaterally impose the leave option on workers could be fined up to NT$1 million (US$33,800). 

In response to reporter's questions over the amendment to the Labor Standards Act that would allow workers to opt for time off in lieu of payment for overtime work yesterday, Shih said employees cannot be forced to take this option and employers that are found to be doing so could be fined between NT$20,000 to NT$1 million, reported CNA

The change is part of a new addendum to the Labor Standards Act titled Article 32-1, which permits employees who have worked overtime to take compensatory leave in lieu of overtime pay. The length of the leave they are able to take will correspond with the number of hours of overtime they worked. 

Shih said in principle that if an employee opts to take leave instead of pay for overtime worked, they must do so within one year. After a year has passed and they have not taken the compensatory leave, they will be entitled to received the overtime pay instead, however Shih said the Ministry of Labor (MOL) has yet to finalize this deadline.

Based on feedback from experts, the ministry will likely make a final determination on the deadline to take compensatory leave by March, when the new amendment takes effect. 

Another highly contentious change to the Labor Standards act includes conditionally allowing employees to work 12 days in a row once they take a mandatory day off either side of the 12-day period, instead of the current six, with the rest period between shifts changed from 11 hours to eight. This specific change has lead to the most protests by labor activists in recent weeks, including 10 who delayed traffic at the Taipei Railway Station by lying across the tracks on Monday (Jan. 8). 

Shih said that the MOL is working with relevant agencies on deciding which industries will be allowed to have their employees work for up to 12 consecutive days and have reduced rest periods between shifts, with an official announcement on the decision to be made on Mar. 1. 

The workweek rules, formally known as the Labor Standards Act, having barely gone into effect less than a year ago in December of 2016, are being modified after complaints from some local business associations that the existing workweek rules were not suited to their sector.