TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Ministry of Labor (MOL) on Monday (Nov. 1) proposed a plan in which migrant workers would be allowed into Taiwan beginning this month according to a points-based system.
During a meeting of the Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee in the Legislative Yuan on Monday, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lai Hui-yuan (賴惠員) asked Labor Minister Hsu Ming-chun (許銘春) what steps are being taken to reopen Taiwan's borders to migrant workers. Hsu responded that amid industry labor shortages and the continued need for epidemic prevention, the MOL has developed a new points-based proposal to enable migrant workers to enter the country and has sent it to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) for approval.
Hsu said that points will be allotted based on a migrant worker's vaccination status, the COVID situation in their country, and the epidemic prevention plan of their prospective employer. She said that the CECC has received the plan and expects it to go into effect this month.
In anticipation of a large influx of migrant workers, the MOL has worked with the Ministry of Health and Welfare to reserve 1,700 extra beds for quarantine centers. Workers' country of origin must also make epidemic prevention preparations, and Taiwan's representative offices in those countries must verify whether the workers have been vaccinated.
DPP Legislator Chuang Ching-cheng (莊競程) asked why the program for migrant workers is more stringent than the entry and quarantine process for ordinary foreigners. Hsu explained that the four major source countries for migrant workers in Taiwan are Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
Of these countries, only Indonesia's COVID cases have diminished somewhat to about 1,000 per day, while the other three are still reporting 10 times the number of daily cases. In order to maintain Taiwan's hard-won low infection rate while still addressing the labor shortage, the government is adopting this points-based method and requiring stricter measures to avoid any breaches in its defenses.
Chuang then asked whether the country would open its borders to migrant workers by the end of November. Hsu replied that the plan has been submitted to the CECC and the work has been divided among six ministries.
Hsu said that Taiwan should be able to begin admitting migrant workers in November and that she hopes the points-based plan can be implemented as soon as possible.
MOL Workforce Development Agency Director-General Tsai Meng-liang (蔡孟良) further elaborated on the plan by saying that under the new program, points will be based on the number of vaccine doses received, the pandemic situation in the country of origin, and the conditions provided by the employer, such as living quarters.
Under the new system, the more points a foreign worker receives, the greater the priority allotted for entry. The weekly quota of openings for migrant workers will be tied to the number of beds available in quarantine centers.
Tsai added that since most of the employers of domestic caregivers are ordinary families, workers seeking employment in factories and those seeking to work for families will apply separately.
The points for these two groups will be evaluated separately. As for the types of vaccines required for migrant workers in these categories, the CECC will make the final decision, said Tsai.