Taiwan moves to enforce two days off a week for employees by legislating a five day work week. There are currently two proposals being debated by the Legislative Yuan; whichever is ultimately adopted, employers will need to review their working week arrangements.
This proposal is being supported by the Chinese Nationalist Party and seeks to limit the working week to five days for all employees.
Five Days Means Five Days
The first of the two proposals seeks to enshrine the five day work week, with limited exceptions. It argues that employees are entitled to two days off each week which, in the absence of an emergency, an employer may not ask the employee to work. Failure to honour the five day work week should result in a fine of between NT$20,000 and NT$300,000 (approximately USD$640 – USD$9500).
Where an emergency arises and an employer requires an employee to work on a day off, employees should be entitled to both double pay for the work performed and time off in lieu.
Supported by the Ministry of Labour, this proposal seeks to adopt a five day week in principle, but to retain some flexibility for employers to ask employees to work at least one additional day.
Regular Day Off & Regular Rest Day
This proposal is premised on the difference between a 'regular day off' and a 'regular rest day'; the former is considered more sacred (usually a Sunday) whereas there can be some flexibility around the latter (usually a Saturday). Employers should only be allowed to request work to be performed on a regular day off where there is an emergency; they should be allowed to request work on a regular rest day so long as enhanced rates are paid.
Either Way, A Five Day Week is Coming
Whichever proposal is ultimately adopted, what is clear is that Taiwan is moving to a five day work week. The current wording of the Labour Standards Act, which reads that a worker shall have 'at least one regular day off in every seven days' will be amended and a five day work week will become the norm. Where employers need their employees to work more than five days they should expect, at a minimum, to pay enhanced rates. However, employers should also start to consider contingency plans in the event that Proposal One is adopted, and additional work is restricted to emergencies.