Taiwan faces lack of migrant domestic help

Taiwan faces lack of migrant domestic help
PHOTO: The Straits Times

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Taiwan is facing a lack of migrant domestic workers as neighbouring countries offer better pay and work conditions, a local newspaper reported yesterday.

Migrant domestic workers are now reluctant to work in Taiwan, particularly in families where there are seriously ill people who need their care, the United Evening News said.

The government only allows families to employ migrant domestic caregivers to take care of their elderly or ill members. The migrant workers are not supposed to do household chores, but it is thought that many of them are required by their employers to do work not in their job descriptions.

Taiwan's employment terms and environments are seen as worse than those of Japan or Hong Kong.

While Taiwan's labour authorities in September decided to raise the monthly pay for migrant workers to NT$17,000, the sum is much lower than in Japan, which offers migrant domestic caregivers US$1,500, the same as for local workers, according to the newspaper.

Hong Kong also pays migrant domestic helpers better, and most of the employers in the city need them to do household chores only.

In comparison, in Taiwan, migrant domestic workers are paid less and given much more work.

Employment agents have disclosed that migrant workers from Southeast Asia now give Taiwan the lowest priority.

They would almost certainly reject offers if the potential employers needed someone to take care of family members who are too "heavy" or seriously incapacitated, as female caregivers usually find it difficult to handle them, the paper said.

Most of the migrant domestic helpers in Taiwan come from Indonesia. The labour authorities in July lifted a ban on Vietnamese migrant workers, but adding another source of workers would not help ease the shortages, the paper said.

Meanwhile, the September decision to raise pay for migrant workers has spelled trouble for local employers.

As the pay rise policy only covers workers employed after September 2015, it has created a wage gap among workers.

Those who have already been working in Taiwan for some time have better local language skills and are more experienced, but they are paid less than newcomers.

Now many of these more experienced workers are demanding that employers raise their salaries, or let them change to another employer, which would make them eligible for the new pay scheme, according to the United Evening News.

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