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Article Taiwan: Maximum 40-Hour Work Week in Effect

(Apr. 12, 2016) On January 1, 2016, an amendment to the Labor Standards Act that limits the work week in Taiwan to 40 hours entered into force. The amendment cut the former maximum work limit of 84 hours every two weeks to the 40-hour per week limit, with no more than eight hours of work allowed per day.  (Sun Hsin-hsuan, Two Days Off per Week, Maximum 40 Working Hours Beginning 2016, CHINA POST (May 2015); Labor Standards Act (July 30, 1984, as last amended Dec. 16, 2015), art. 30, ¶ 1, Laws & Regulations Database of the Republic of China.)

Under certain conditions, the employer may distribute to other work days “the regular working hours of any two workdays in every two weeks,” as long as no more than two hours are added on to each of the other workdays, but the total number of work hours may not exceed 48 hours a week. (Labor Standards Act, art. 30 ¶ 2.) The employer may also distribute additional hours in an eight-week period, if the workdays do not exceed eight hours a day or 48 hours per week. (Id. art. 30 ¶ 3.) These two provisions only apply, however, to “the businesses (or industries) designated by the Central Competent Authority.”  (Id. art. 30 ¶ 4.)

The amendment further provided for a punishment of between NT$20,000 and NT$300,000 (about US$618 to $9,279) for employers who violate the above three provisions on work hours.  (Id. ¶ 1(1).)

Also, subject to certain conditions, an employer may change employees’ working hours according to certain principles; one such case is if the employee is given at least two days off every two weeks as regular leave and is not subject to restrictions set forth elsewhere in the Act. (Id. art. 30-1 ¶ 1(3).)

The amended Law extends the length of time employers should keep documentation on employee attendance records by an additional four years, for a total of five years. Violators face a penalty of between NT$90,000 and NT$450,000 in fines.  (Sun, supra; Labor Standards Act, art. 30 ¶ 5, & art. 79, ¶ 1(3).)  Employers may not turn down an employee’s request for a copy of the attendance record; doing so may incur a fine of between NT$20,000 and NT$300,000.  (Sun, supra; Labor Standards Act, arts. 30 ¶ 6  & 79 ¶ 1(1).)

Lin Por-fong, Chairman of the Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce, stated at the time of adoption of the amendment in May 2015 that while he was in favor of amending the regular work in Taiwan to 40 hours because that “is currently the internationally recognized figure,” in his view the permissible number of overtime hours should be extended to 60 per month. (Sun, supra.).  While it had been proposed that the relevant provision in the Labor Standards Act be amended to expand the permitted amount of overtime work to 54 hours per month from the current 46, in the end the proposal was not adopted.  (Id.)

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