Taiwan’s Labour Standards Act (the Act) was amended again in January 2018 (the 2018 Amendments). In this bulletin, we consider the effect that the amendments have had on the conduct of labour inspections in Taiwan.
Changes To Labour Inspections Laws
The 2018 Amendments were comprehensive and brought a significant change to the conduct of labour inspections. Where an employee files a complaint of violation of labour laws to a competent authority or an inspection agency (the Inspectors), the inspectors must now investigate the complaint and notify the employee in writing of the status of the investigation within sixty days of its receipt of the complaint.
It therefore comes as no surprise that there have been reports of increased inspections being conducted, and in November 2018, the Minister for Labour reported an increase in the number of labour inspection personnel hired by the Ministry of Labour (MOL).
The penalties for employers who violate labour laws were also generally increased, with the maximum fine for certain offences now set at NT$1,000,000. The competent authority is also empowered to increase the penalty by an additional 50%, taking into account the size of the company, the number of violations and other relevant circumstances.
Method Of Inspection
Aside from carrying out investigations pursuant to complaints from employees, the Inspectors can also carry out onsite inspections of their own volition. Inspections are usually unannounced, with no prior warning. The Inspectors typically focus on compliance with working hours and payments provisions in the Act (such as the number of hours worked by employees, the recording of time and attendance, and overtime payments).
Following high-profile incidents such as a bus accident in February 2017 that resulted in the deaths of more than 30 passengers, as well as a factory fire in February 2019 in which 3 workers lost their lives, the MOL has emphasised the need for employers to comply with safety requirements. Employers should expect their safety practices to also be subject to scrutiny from Inspectors.
The MOL has indicated that it plans to implement a large-scale labour inspection project in industries that typically require long working hours from its employee. These “high-risk” industries include the financial and transportation sectors. With increased supervision, the MOL hopes to reduce the rates of occupational accidents.
Given the changes, employers should take active steps to prevent violations of labour laws, and seek to foster a working culture of compliance. An internal audit is a useful way to measure and identify any exposure. Employers should also undertake consistent effort to review and ensure that employee contracts, work rules, and internal policies remain compliant with the relevant laws.