Promote Paid Family Care Leaves Guarantee Economic Security for Labor
Nowadays, most families are earning two incomes. The sandwich generation between aging parents and children are most troubled by sick kids or elders, or enterovirus-related work (class) suspension since they are unable to provide care while being at work. The government has acknowledged this social need and clearly stipulated in Article 20 of the Act of Gender Equality in Employment that, for the purpose of taking personal care of family members who need inoculation or who suffer serious illness or for handling other major events, employees may request family care leaves. The number of such leaves shall be incorporated into “leave for personal cause” and should not exceed seven days in one year. The computation of wages during family care leave periods shall be made pursuant to the related statutes and administrative regulations governing leave for personal cause.
Enterovirus infections peak from April to June every year, driving workers who have little children to panic. According to the “Operation Directions for Taipei City Enterovirus Notification and Class Suspension at Taipei City Public and Private High Schools and Lower and Kindergartens,” nursery institutions with children under six years old must be closed during a severe enterovirus outbreak; this requires class suspension. In addition, all nursery institutions, according to the enrollment targets, shall implement an enterovirus notification mechanism. The tutorial schools and After-school Childcare Centers in Taipei City shall also be subject to the above-mentioned directions for class suspension. Therefore, parents may request family care leave to take care of their children in the event of enterovirus-related work (class) suspension.
Meanwhile, family care leaves aim at allowing employees to balance family caregiving and work. The definition of “family members” may refer to the provision of Article 1123 of the Civil Code, including “relatives” (people with kinship), “members of the house” (people who live in the same household), and “deemed to be the members of the house” (people who live in the same household with the object of permanently maintaining the common living), which all belong to the category of “family members”. Therefore, if employees have to take parents-in-law to the hospital, they are eligible to request family care leaves. Employers shall treat them with care and approve such leaves without any rejection. Employers will be fined NTD 20,000 to NTD 300,000, if they reject the employees’ requests for family care leaves, carry out penalties detrimental to the employees, or see the leaves as absence from duties, whereby the employees’ perfect attendance bonuses or performance evaluations are affected. Furthermore, the employers’ names and the names of the responsible persons will be made public. Employers will be asked to make improvements within a limited time.
Though the stipulations are made with good intentions, the computation of wages during family care leave periods shall still be made pursuant to the related statutes and administrative regulations governing leave for personal cause. For instance, the Regulations of Leave-Taking of Workers requires that workers be entitled to normal leave without pay not exceeding fourteen days in one year. However, in practice, because family care leaves are unpaid, employees often request “paid” special leaves instead of “unpaid” family care leaves. Therefore, the Department of Labor has suggested that the Ministry of Labor should amend the laws or regulations as soon as possible based on the notion of “paid family care leave”, or follow the approach of parental leave allowances to use the “Employment Insurance Fund.” Thus, workers can maintain their economic security while taking family care leaves and receive the benefits from the good intentions of the government’s legislation.