Number of furloughed workers in Taiwan down in early January

Taipei, The number of workers on unpaid leave in Taiwan in the first half of January fell further as the domestic economy showed signs of improving, according to data released by the Ministry of Labor (MOL) on Monday.

As of Jan. 15, the data showed, the number of workers who had agreed with their employers to be given unpaid leave was 249, down sharply from 529 in the second half of December.

The latest fall came after a drop of 27 recorded in the second half of last month as the economy picked up momentum, the data indicated.

In late November, the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics forecast that Taiwan's economy will grow 1.87 percent in 2017, compared with 1.35 percent growth estimated for 2016, as rising global demand helps Taiwan's export-oriented economy.

Twice a month, the government releases data on unpaid leave to provide an update on conditions in the local labor market.

In the first half of January, a total of 11 employers terminated their unpaid leave programs, while none launched unpaid leave programs. That meant the number of employers with workers on unpaid leave was down to 10, the MOL said.

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

The companies, mostly in the metal and electromechanical industries, have been asking their workers to take one to four 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$631 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, the trainees receive a stipend of NT$100 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