Taiwan labour laws: Two days off per week, maximum 40 working hours beginning 2016

TAIPEI - Beginning Jan. 1, 2016, the maximum allowable working hours will be cut to 40 per week with a mandatory two days off, officials of the Legislative Yuan said yesterday.

An amendment to the Labor Standards Act was completed yesterday, cutting maximum working hours from the current 84 every two weeks to 40 hours per week and no more than eight hours each day. Furthermore, two days off every week has been made mandatory, effective from Jan. 1 next year. Employers who violate the regulations could be punished with fines of between NT$20,000 (S$868) and NT$300,000(S$13,000).

Further to the amendment, an extra four years is added to the length of time employers should keep employees' attendance records documented, making it five years in total. Moreover, employers are not allowed to turn down employee requests for attendance record copies. Violations may lead to fines of between NT$90,000 and NT$450,000.

According to the Taiwan Labor Front (TLF), a labour activist organisation, it is estimated that more than 3.4 million workers will benefit from the amendment. "This progress has long been awaited since the Labor Standards Act was last amended in 2000, adjusting maximum working hours to 84 hours," TLF representatives said yesterday. "However, this is only the first step in creating a reasonable working environment for the working class."

Business Groups Worry about Industrial Outsourcing

Chairman of the Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce (CNAIC) Lin Por-fong () yesterday said that he supports the amendment as working 40 hours per week is currently the internationally recognised figure; however, he added that overtime hours should be extended to 60 per month.

The current Labor Standards Act restricts overtime work to 46 hours per month. It was proposed that the clause be amended to 54 hours per month, however, this was not discussed yesterday, legislators said.

"If the maximum allowable overtime working hours remain the same, labour-intensive industries may have to move out, resulting in fewer job openings and salary deductions in the nation, which is not good news for local workers at all," Lin said yesterday.

Lin Hui-ying, chairwoman of the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, (NASME) also said that smaller enterprises will not be able to handle high seasons or particular situations when clients request an urgent deadline if the clause remains the same. "The only way out for these enterprises will be to outsource labour work," she added.