By Chan, Meng-hin（陳明憲）Chen, Ching-wen（陳靖文）
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.
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.