Number of furloughed workers in Taiwan down in 1st half of February

Taipei-- The number of workers on unpaid leave in Taiwan in the first half of February fell from Jan. 15 as the local economy showed signs of improving, according to statistics released Thursday by the Ministry of Labor (MOL).

As of Feb. 15, the data shows, the number of workers who had agreed with their employers to take unpaid leave stood at 223, down 26 from a month earlier.

The unpaid leave data was released after the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) a day earlier raised its forecast for Taiwan's gross domestic product growth for 2017 to 1.92 percent from an earlier estimate of 1.87 percent increase made in November.

The local economy, about 60 percent of which comes from exports, has been reviving from the second half of last year at a time when global demand has been on the rise. In 2016, Taiwan's GDP grew 1.5 percent, an upward revision from a preliminary reading of 1.40 percent made in January.

The National Development Council (NDC), the Cabinet's top economic planning agency, has set a target of boosting Taiwan's GDP growth by 2 percent-2.5 percent in 2017, more aggressive than the DGBAS.

In the first half of this month, a total of 10 employers implemented unpaid leave programs after reaching consensus with their employees, unchanged from Jan. 15, the MOL said.

In the 30-day period, three employers terminated their unpaid leave programs, but an additional three launched furloughed programs, which left the total number unchanged, the MOL added.

Twice a month, the government releases data on unpaid leave to provide an update on conditions in the local labor market. The latest report was delayed due to the Lunar New Year holiday from Jan. 27 to Feb. 5.

Most of the companies with employees on unpaid leave were small enterprises with workforces of fewer than 50 employees, according to the MOL.

The companies have been asking their workers to take 9-12 days of unpaid leave per month for a period of up to three months, the ministry said.

The government has implemented a NT$20 billion (US$650 million) program to reduce the financial impact of furloughs on workers, offering them training to upgrade their job skills, the MOL said.

Under the program, trainees receive a stipend of NT$120 per hour to help meet their living expenses, up to a maximum of NT$12,000 per month, the ministry said.

Employees also have the option of taking online training courses that are available on the website of the MOL's Skill Evaluation Center, the ministry said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel