Amendments to labor law are called for to boost the birth rate

Parental leave needs to be more flexible, which would help boost the birth rate and labor market participation of married women, a lawyer has said.

  • By Chien Hui-ju and Jonathan Chin / Journalist, with an editor

On Wednesday, lawmakers from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Childcare Policy Alliance urged the government to reform labor regulations to boost Taiwan’s birth rate and keep married women in the workforce.

The law should be changed to allow parental leave in hourly rather than monthly blocks and parents should have the right to leave until their child is eight, not three as is currently the case, said the Alliance spokesperson Huang Chiao-ling (黃喬鈴) at a press conference in Taipei. .

These changes would require amendments to the Employment Insurance Act (就業保險法) and the Parental Leave Without Pay for Raising Children Implementation Regulations (育嬰留職停薪實施辦法), Huang said.

Photo: Tsai Shu-yuan, Taipei Times

The changes would make parental leave more flexible, which would help boost the country’s birth rate and the participation of married women in the labor market, said alliance official Liu Yu-hsiu (劉毓秀).

Academic studies and data from other countries show that publicly funded childcare properly integrated with parental leave is an effective policy solution, Liu said.

Labor laws stipulate that parents who take parental leave must do so in monthly installments, which often keeps mothers out of the workforce permanently, she said.

Inflexible regulations hurt families and business owners, she said.

“Taiwanese parents have the longest working hours in the world, with 50% of fathers and 20% of mothers working overtime,” said Wang Shu-yung (王舒芸), associate professor of social welfare at the National Chung Cheng University.

Department of Labor data shows that 56.6% of people aged 25-34 work overtime, while a separate study on child rearing showed that parents consider not being with their children under three is their biggest challenge, Wang said.

“The global trend is to design regulations based on workers’ needs and increase flexibility for parents to spend time with their families,” she said.

Granting unpaid leave to parents is not enough, as many have used it amid restrictions from COVID-19 alerts, said Taipei Trade Union Confederation Vice President Wang Yen-chieh (王燕杰).

Subsidies for raising children and creating a family-friendly workplace are important next steps for Taiwanese women, DPP lawmaker Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬) said.

“Women shouldn’t have to choose between their career and their children,” Lin said, adding, “Most women are employed full-time and won’t accept family-friendly policies that reduce their income.” .

Taiwan’s parental leave policy is outdated compared to other countries that have instituted flexible, paid parental leave, said DPP lawmaker Fan Yun (范雲).

“Parental leave laws in Australia are written in gender-neutral language and allow up to 12 consecutive weeks of paid leave to the parent of any one-year-old child,” Fan said. “In addition, parents of children under two are entitled to 30 days of flexible paid leave.”

Using time blocks for holidays would make it easier for workers and employers to negotiate holidays and avoid unwanted and unnecessary disputes, said Taiwan Confederation of Trade Union President Chang Chi-shan (張綺珊) .

The Chinese language United Daily News reported that the department said allowing workers to take parental leave for a few hours at a time may not be feasible for all industries.

The ministry is not ready to propose any changes at this time, the newspaper reported.

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