Five-day Work Week Plan in Taiwan

By  Chan, Meng-hin(陳明憲)Chen, Ching-wen(陳靖文)Hsu, Yu-shan(許毓珊)Liu, Chia-yu(劉家瑜)Lam Tsz-ching (林梓晴) Chuang Li-cheng (莊立誠)

The five-day work week plan not all-satisfying

The Legislative Yuan has revised the Labor Standards Act and implemented the five-day work week plan(一例一休) to ease Taiwan laborers’ heavy workloads. This brought significant controversies between entrepreneurs and laborers. Chang, Chyi-herng(張其恆), associate professor & director of the Institution for Labour Research of National ChengChi University(國立政治大學)said,“Entrepreneurs and laborers should understand each other’s needs, and try to reach a win-win situation.’’

The aim of five-day work week plan is to ensure laborers have enough rest. Under the scheme, laborers work for five days and get two days off weekly. There are certain names for these two days, one is fixed day off, and the other, flexible day off or rest day. For fixed day off, employers cannot require employees to work unless there are specific circumstances. On the other hand, Chang said, “Flexible day off is actually a new concept.” Employers can still ask employees to work, but with certain compensation. The new measure stipulates that if employees work on flexible day off, employers have to pay 133% of hourly pay for the first two hours, and 166% for ensuing two hours on wards. The new regulation is predicted to decrease the chances of employers requiring employees to work overtime.

Some stores raise products’ prices to cope with high personnel cost. Photo/Chan, Meng-hin(陳明憲)

Can the five-day work week plan bring benefits to both laborers and businesses? Labor groups have protested how the flexible day off works. They think enterprises are still gaining the upper hand. From the employees’ point of view, they may get less wages as employers want to avoid overtime pay to cut personnel costs. The plan also puts enterprises in troubles: their personnel costs increase, which may result in a rise of product prices, which is not good for consumers.

Any way, the five-day work week plan doesn’t really fit every job. There should be more thorough regulation for specific industries such as tourism and bus service. For example, when tour guides go on a weekly tour to Europe, he cannot stick to the law. For bus service operators, they need more drivers to work on shifts, whereas the drivers may want to get more pay. Laborers overall don’t really hope to cut down on working hours and get less pay. Chang said,’’ Sometimes economic development is in conflict with social progress and worker well-being. Our government needs to find out the core impact and to deal with it.’’ Chang also suggested that government should consult both the employers and employees to know both sides’ needs. The government can’t make a decision without listening.

The government should listen to both the employers and employees and make a conclusion. Photo/Chan, Meng-hin(陳明憲)


A Policy Sways the Media Industry

Starting last October, all the employees in Taiwan must have 1 day off after working for 6 days. That is to say, all companies in Taiwan have to adjust their employees work time from 8 days off per month to 2 days off per week. There must be 1 regular day off and 1 “rest day ” in a week. If employees work on regular days off, employers have to give call-back pay; on rest days, employees cannot do any work according to the Labor Standards Act.

Employees working in Taiwan Television(台灣電視台). Photo / Hsu, Yu-shan(許毓珊)

To the question of whether the policy improved reporters’ work environment or not, Chen Shu-chiang(陳蜀強), a TV Journalist in Taiwan Television(台灣電視台)said  that it does. Big companies are warned by the authorities about labor inspection. So the Five-day Work Week Plan has reduced reporters’ work time from 16 hours to 11 hours every day. Before the policy was announced, most of reporters’ night shift was from 8:30 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. of the next day. After the policy was launched, many companies like Sanlih E-Television Inc.(三立電視台)and Formosa Television Inc.(民視), started to adopt a new night shift system—from 2:00 or 3:00 p.m. to midnight or  1:00 a.m.  the next day, ”said Chen.

The policy is aimed at bringing some changes to the media industry. Photo / Hsu, Yu-shan(許毓珊)

Talking about the days off of reporters, Chiang Meng-chien(江孟謙), a reporter in United Daily News Group said, “in the past, we can accumulate our leaves and plan to travel within six months; under the new policy, we need to take some days off within one month. It’s a significant influence on me.” However, in addition to the problem of days off, Chiang doesn’t think the new policy has affected him much. For him, the media industry works in a “responsibility system,” with no overtime problem – journalists need to finish their work but if there is nothing important happening, they can do what they want. Compared to other jobs, the working time of reporters are relatively free and flexible. “Media work is different from other jobs; the government should consider more when making policies,” said Chiang.

Lee Chih-te(李志德) keeps a positive attitude on the policy. Photo / offer by Lee Chih-te(李志德)

Facing the new work rules, reporters serving in traditional newspapers are actually overloaded because nowadays internet environment requires real-time news, said Lee Chih-te(李志德), director of News Department of the Public News Service. To adjust the shift system more properly, Public News Service’s News Department decided to practice “2 regular days off plus 2 rest days in 2 weeks”(兩周變形工時) that the policy allows. However, he keeps a positive attitude on “one regular day off and one flexible rest day (一例一休)” though the policy decreases the flexibility on employees taking shifts. “In the long term, I consider it is a good policy for the career development to a reporter,” said Lee(李志德).

New Labor Policy may not be Suitable for Every Industry

One regular day off and one flexible rest day under a “five-day work week” principle was launched by the Tsai government in December, 2016. The policy seemingly brings a lot of benefits to the laborers, such as guaranteeing their holidays, improving the quality of working environment, etc. However, does the “one regular day off and one flexible rest day” measure work out well in every industry?

The Tsai government implemented the new policy in order to enhance the labor rights.  However, it is also seen as a disguised form of forcing employers to give employees enough rest time. Chen, Jin-zhong(陳進忠), a tour bus driver of Yu Sheng International Tour Service(育昇國際旅行社), said the five-day work week principle is not suitable for some tourism workers. Most of tour groups from Mainland China spend 7 to 8 days traveling around Taiwan. Drivers and tour leaders always need to get up early to get everything ready for the customers. Especially for drivers, after they send all passengers back to hotels, they need to clean up the tour buses.

The basic salary of tour bus drivers is low.Photo/Lam, Tsz-ching

“Honestly, the basic salary of tour bus drivers is very low, and they could only earn more money by taking more tour groups. Excessive fatigue could lead to dangerous driving. The fundamental solution to this problem is raising their basic wages, ” said Chen.

Bus drivers may have to work overnight as they always get ready for customers. Photo/Lam, Tsz-ching

Lin, Yu-rou(林妤柔), who works at a local travel agency, said that the travel agency is faced with the problem of increasing personnel costs. The tour bus driver should regularly take days off, but there are “low seasons and high seasons”(淡/旺季) for tour agencies. Scheduling shifts for the drivers will be much more difficult. Though the operation costs will increase, they will not shift their burden onto consumers. From another point of view, the “one regular day off and one flexible rest day” policy seemingly helps to improve the quality of working environment.

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