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Professional Dispute Resolution Measures for Migrant Workers in Taipei City Achieving a Success Rate of over 80%

       In order to resolve disputes between employers and migrant workers, Taipei City launched a professional arbitrator system since 2018, where professional lawyers have been assigned as arbitrators. In 2018, a total of 179 resolution meetings were held, establishing more than 85% of the cases. Taipei City Foreign and Disabled Labor Office (FD) stated that the assignment of professional lawyers can quickly settle disputes by examining and interpreting common disputes between migrant workers and their employers through different laws such as the Employment Service Act, the Civil Code, the Criminal Code of the Republic of China and other regulations. This practice can protect migrant workers’ rights and interests and provide employers with legal consultation, so that a better foundation can be built for future employer-employee relations.

       In Taipei City, more than 90% of the migrant workers work as caregivers in host families. Employees and employers often have disputes arising from language, lifestyle, habit, religion, culture and dining issues, or inadequate care techniques, routines and schedules, or that employers fail to pay the workers’ wages on time or keep IDs, passports or work permits away from the workers, and these are issues both workers and employers often voice their concerns about. As migrant workers working as home caregivers have not yet been protected by the Labor Standards Act, dispute resolution meetings often involve the Civil Code or Criminal Code litigations or emotional issues. Personnel from the local authority may have to play multiple roles in the resolution, conducting bilingual translation, arbitrator’s duties, statutory interpretation and recording. They are often misunderstood as being deliberately biased, so the resolution results are unsatisfactory and it is difficult to control and improve the quality.

       The FD has begun to establish a professional arbitrator system since 2018. Meant to provide professional services and collaboration, they quickly clarify disputes between the parties of employers and employees and provide interpretation of legal competition to clearly tell the parties whether the disputes are in the scope of the Employment Service Act or the Civil Code or Criminal Code litigations. Workers, employers and those private intermediaries or placement agencies may be more confident with the professional image of lawyers being the arbitrators, enhancing the trust and reducing emotional language during the resolution.

       In the 179 sessions of resolution meetings held in 2019, the issues of workers and employers getting along with each other were dominant. Disputes can arise from the different views on the way of care or its administration, leading to the termination of employment contract or the change of employers. In resolution meetings, arbitrators can actively establish a peaceful consensus with their professional role being a lawyer and litigation experience, and they can provide legal interpretation and information to find solutions acceptable to both parties so that they can reach an agreement. At the same time, they can help workers, employers and employment intermediaries to understand the relevant laws, regulations and penalties to prevent future disputes.

       The Taipei City Government launched the nation’s first professional arbitrator system. This year, the government will conduct a pilot run of having professional interpreters who have received basic training of resolution cases attend resolution events, so the communication barrier between workers and employers during the process can be lowered. The opinions expressed by both parties will be clearly conveyed and focus on the disputes. The introduction of the practice will improve the quality of the resolution for disputes involving international migrant workers and achieve three objectives in having “Profession System, Personnel and Experience,” further protecting the rights and interests of employers and migrant workers.