Migrant labor agencies not allowed to charge placement fee twice: Taiwan Ministry of Labor

Following a protest by migrant caregivers in Taipei on Sunday, the Ministry of Labor issued statements two days in a row to safeguard the rights of migrant workers/caregivers. 

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TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - Taiwan's Ministry of Labor reminds foreign worker/caregiver staffing agencies not to raise another placement fee or the equivalent against migrant workers/caregivers when they find new employers or renew the contract with the same employers upon expiration of a previous contract. 

Following a protest by migrant caregivers in Taipei on Sunday, Taiwan's Ministry of Labor issued a press release urging employers to give foreign caregivers at least one day off a week. The ministry also issued another statement the next day saying the placement fee must not be charged twice if a migrant worker/caregiver changes employers or renews an expired contract with the same employer. 

Violators will face a maximum fine which will be 20 times the amount that the migrant workers/caregivers are overcharged. A temporary suspension of manpower business for three months or higher may also be included in the penalties.

The ministry urged those being overcharged or charged a placement fee twice, to call the complaint hotline 1955, which is available in several languages such as Indonesian, Thai, Vietnamese and English.

In 2016, the Legislative Yuan passed the Employment Services Amendment Act, which removes the requirement that foreign workers must leave the country for one day after three years of employment, and must subsequently re-enter the country to continue work in Taiwan.

The amendment act also bans staffing agencies from charging workers further placement fees for re-entry. However, the ministry found that some staffing agencies have in many cases implemented new placement fees, which are often referred to by other names. This practice is illegal based on the new regulations, as it adds to workers' financial burdens. 

New employers can appoint manpower agencies to hunt for suitable foreign workers, but expense placed on the foreign worker, such as registration fee and referral fee must all be covered by the employer, according to the statement. 

The ministry emphasizes that the staffing agencies can charge foreign workers/caregivers fees only when there exists an actual service, and only after the new employment contract has been completed and signed. The service charges placed upon foreign workers may not exceed NT$1,800 (US$60), NT$1,700 (US$56), and NT$1,500 (US$50) for the first, second, and third year in Taiwan, respectively.