Number of furloughed workers up in Taiwan

The number of workers on unpaid leave in Taiwan in the second half of August increased from the first two weeks of the month at a time of slowing economic growth in the country, government statistics showed Thursday.

As of the end of August, a total of 544 workers were on furlough, up eight from 536 reported on August 15, the Ministry of Labor (MOL) said.

The number of employers who had unpaid leave programs in place as of the end of August was 26, a slight increase from 25 in the first half of the month, the MOL said.

In the last two weeks, two employers asked their workers to take unpaid leave, but another one stopped implementing its unpaid-leave program, which raised the total number of employers which had furlough programs in place at the end of August by one, the data showed.

Twice a month, the government releases data on furloughs to give an update on the situation in the local labor market, particularly in light of Taiwan's poor export performance amid weak global demand.

The MOL said that affected by the economic slowdown, those employers have been asking their workers to take one to four days of unpaid leave per month for a period of up to three months.

Most of the companies that had employees on unpaid leave were small enterprises in the metal and electromechanical industries with a workforce of fewer than 50 employees, according to the MOL.

To assuage the financial impact on workers who have been on unpaid leave, the ministry said that the government has implemented a NT$20 billion (US$631 million) program to offer training to affected employees to upgrade their job skills.

Under the training 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 added.

Once the MOL is notified of workers newly affected by the furlough programs, the ministry will contact them to offer assistance under the training program with the hope that they will be able to prepare themselves by sharpening their skills to meet market demand, the MOL said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel