Periodic ‘return home’ requirement ends for migrant workers

An amendment to the Employment Services Act that scraps a regulation on the maximum length of each stay in Taiwan for migrant workers went into effect Thursday after the Presidential Office promulgated it.

The amendment cleared the legislature on Oct. 21, removing a provision that required migrant workers who have worked in Taiwan for three years -- the longest contract allowed -- to leave the country for at least one day if they want to be re-hired.

Many of those who leave the country so as to be re-hired stay well over one day, taking the opportunity to make a home visit.

The reform is aimed at cutting the waiting period for employers and saving migrant workers in brokerage and other fees.

As of the end of July, 603,109 foreigners were employed as construction workers, factory workers, domestic helpers or in other manual jobs in Taiwan, according to data from the Ministry of Labor.

Before the law was amended, each year some 14,000 of them needed to leave the country before they could re-enter to continue their work here, the ministry said.

In most of those cases, the migrant workers needed to pay brokerage or regulation fees to re-enter and work in Taiwan again -- fees that can pose a serious financial burden, the ministry said.

Such costs can amount to NT$50,000 (US$1,589)-NT$54,000 in Indonesia, and as much as NT$120,000 in Vietnam.

The change came after calls from migrant workers and their supporters, who have also urged the Taiwan government to remove another regulation that caps the maximum length of a foreign worker's overall stay to 12 years.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel