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Taiwan inches closer to allowing parents to take leave together

Amendments to Employment Insurance Act passed third reading at Legislative Yuan

A dad plays with his kids in the park. 

A dad plays with his kids in the park.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Anticipated adjustments to leave regulations will allow parents in Taiwan to take parental leave together.

Amendments to the Employment Insurance Act (就業保險法) passed the third reading at the Legislative Yuan on Dec. 24. Once finalized, parents will be able to take paid leave at the same time, according to a CNA report.

Bureau of Labor Affairs guidelines show parents must have at least two children under the age of three to be eligible to take leave together, as has previously been required. Once the changes are finally passed into law, it is expected the bureau will update the website accordingly.

For many years, one parent had to work full-time for the other to qualify for paid leave in Taiwan. With the new changes, both parties will be able to apply and receive the government salary subsidy (80% of their income) at the same time.

Yet despite parents being allowed to reserve their positions for six months while they take leave, most interviewed by FormosaTV said they would be too afraid to leave their jobs, as they worry they will not get them back once they return.

Taiwan’s parental leave scheme is structured so the government pays parents a monthly allowance during their leave and not their employer. According to data by the Bureau of Labor Affairs, about 14,000 people apply each year, most taking about five months off. The average monthly payment is NT$20,000 (US$718), per FormosaTV.

The government will have to move quickly if it is to turn Taiwan’s demographic nosedive around. While the COVID-19 pandemic delivered a baby boom in Scandinavian countries, there has been no such silver lining in Taiwan.

In 2020, the country only saw 165,000 babies born — the lowest in history. The crude birth rate, meaning the annual number of live births per 1,000 people, was seven, which fell well short of the death rate.