Taiwanese employers who dock migrant worker wages can face NT$300,000 fine

Taiwanese employers, brokers who illegally cut migrant workers' wages face heavy fines

Taiwan International Workers' Association members call for end to labor broker system.

Taiwan International Workers' Association members call for end to labor broker system. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Workforce Development Agency (WDA) under the Ministry of Labor (MOL) on Monday reminded the public that employers and labor brokers face heavy fines if they are found to be making illegal deductions from the salaries of migrant workers.

In order to protect the wage rights and interests of migrant workers, the WDA in a press release issued on Monday (Aug. 17) emphasized that the current laws and regulations stipulate that employers must pay migrant workers their full wages. If employers fail to pay wages in full or overcharge them service fees by brokers, workers can file a report through the 24-hour 1955 Hotline and have them investigated by the local authorities for violating the law.

According to the WDA, there are over 700,000 migrant workers who are currently employed in Taiwan. Some unscrupulous labor agencies require employers to deduct and transfer service fees directly from the wages of their migrant employees.

In addition, some brokers may withhold money under the false pretense of unexplained loans or fraudulent items. If employers are found to be illegally docking the pay of migrant workers, they would be in violation of Article 43 of the "Regulations on the Permission and Administration of the Employment of Foreign Worker" (雇主聘僱外國人許可及管理辦法) and Article 57 of the "Employment Service Act" (就業服務法) and could face fines of between NT$60,000 (US$2,000) and NT$300,000 and have their employment permit revoked.

If a broker is found to be illegally overcharging a migrant worker, they will be fined 10 to 20 times the amount of the excess fees and face a suspension of their business.

The WDA reminds employers that with the exception of statutory fees (i.e. national health insurance premiums, labor insurance premiums, income taxes, board and lodging expenses, employee welfare benefits, court or administrative fees, or other amounts that can be legally deducted from wages), no other deductions may be made from their wages. When an employer pays wages to a foreign worker in accordance with the labor contract, they must include a detailed salary statement printed in Chinese and in the foreigner national's native language for them to retain in their records for five years.

According to the WDA, common items that employers illegally deduct from migrant workers on behalf of brokers include service fees, foreign loans, residence permit fees, and medical examination fees. Since these fees are illegal, the agency appeals to employers not to deduct non-statutory fees so as to ensure that migrant workers can actually receive their full wages and have their rights and interests protected.