TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Migrants Empowerment Network in Taiwan (MENT) urged the Taiwanese government on International Women's Day (March 8) to make a new law to improve working conditions for migrant household care workers, who are excluded from the protection of the Labor Standards Act.
The MENT and other groups held a press conference in front of the Ministry of Labor (MOL) on Tuesday to ask it to improve working conditions for these household workers, CNA reported.
The MENT pointed out that they are excluded from the Labor Standards Act. According to MOL statistics, 47.3% of household migrant caregivers in households did not get any days off last year. Before the COVID-19 pandemic as many as 34%, or about 70,000, said they had not been granted any days off during their time in the position.
In addition, migrant caregivers' salaries average only NT$17,000 (US$595) a month, a record NT$8,250 lower than the minimum wage, the labor group pointed out.
Taiwan International Workers’ Association (TIWA) staffer Betty Chen (陳容柔) said that a draft household service act to guarantee working conditions was drawn up many years ago, but there has been no such legislation to date. She added that the government has only put forward a special program to keep migrant workers in the country.
Chen said that even though Taiwan needs a great many care workers, the government does not want to look into why many are reluctant to stay long. The reason is poor working conditions, she stressed; if these conditions are improved, they will stay, she stated.
She urged the government to improve this systemic issue and start drafting a household service law to ensure basic benefits for migrant caregivers, such as the salary and days off and to regulate their working hours.
In response, the MOL said migrant household caregivers' working environment, hours, and breaks are very different from those of their industrial counterparts, thus it is difficult to apply the Labor Standards Act to caregivers.
In order to safeguard their rights, they are now required to sign a labor contract with their employers before coming to Taiwan. This document provides for sufficient breaks as well as one day off every seven days, the ministry added.
In addition, the government is negotiating a pay adjustment with migrant workers' countries of origin that takes into consideration workers’ benefits and employers’ burden, according to CNA.