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Outbreak Family Leave Sparks Disputes - Deputy Mayor Huang Shan-Shan Appeals to Central Government to Standardize Regulations

New commissioners at the swear-in ceremony Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-Je hosted the inauguration ceremony of Department of Labor Commissioner Chen Hsin-Yu and Research, Development and Evaluation Commission Chairperson Lai Yen-Lin on the morning of February 4. In regard to the outbreak situation, Ko has instructed Deputy Mayor Huang Shan-Shan to respond to the media’s questions, and Huang has made an appeal to the central government to provide standardized regulations on the issue of remuneration concerning outbreak family leave.

During the media interview, Huang first explained that the Department of Health has already obtained masks for frontline service personnel in the 8 major industries from the central government, and a decision was made on how to distribute these masks in the morning meeting hosted by the Mayor on February 4. Of the 190,000-plus masks requested by Taipei City Government, only 131,000 were received yesterday, therefore the Mayor instructed that mask allocation must be prioritized based on the actual demand, with the exception being teachers, who have also submitted the number of masks required, but since the back to school date has been postponed, minor adjustments will be made in this regard. In terms of schools, masks will be handed out to the administrative staff first, and the rest will be distributed according to the actual demand.

Huang stated that she has instructed the Department of Personnel to obtain details pertaining to outbreak leave from the Directorate-General of Personnel Administration (DGPA). Although the city hall is a government agency, there are also contract employees in the institution. The Labor Standards Act applies to the staff and workers, who are also faced with the problem of outbreak family leave. According to Huang, since Taipei City Hall is a government agency, everything must comply with the central government’s regulations. Although different private enterprises may be given some leeway as to the approach adopted, the city hall has less freedom in this regard, and therefore we have been negotiating with the DGPA until last night, and the current consensus is that a set of standard regulations will be applied nationwide. Furthermore, the city hall wishes to let the temporary contract employees benefit from outbreak family leave on top of conventional family care leave, so as not to deduct their family care leave and protect their rights. Taipei City Hall wants to set an example among government agencies by securing more benefits for our colleagues.

Huang elaborated that in relation to temporary workers, she has received some updates from the Department of Social Welfare. Since temporary workers are disadvantaged minorities, they will be given more beneficial treatment within Taipei City’s allowable budget.

As far as outbreak family leave is concerned, journalists asked Huang if remuneration will be given according to ration stipulated by the central government. Huang replied that tabulated forms will be handed out after the meeting for everyone’s reference. Although family care leave is already an officially recognized term, outbreak family leave is not mentioned in the Regulations on Civil Servants’ Applications for Leave, Janitor Management Guideline or Remuneration Regulations for Contract Employees. In other words, despite the fact that the central government has stipulated the outbreak family leave, it is nowhere to be found in the Regulations on Civil Servants’ Applications for Leave, hence only existing family care leave can be applied. Family care leave entitles employees to 7 days of paid leave per year, but the remaining 7 days will be unpaid leave under existing regulations. Under the premise of leave without pay, the private sector will also demand flexible remuneration. Even with Taipei City’s copious financial resources, it cannot simply sanction paid leave at will and remunerate whoever it desires. Consequently, it is imperative to lay a set of standard ground rules that can be applied nationally, and that is why she was still discussing this issue with the central government last night, hoping to see unequivocal regulations today. After all, there are many contract employees, staff and workers in the Taipei City Hall that are waiting to see how this will pan out; since the existing Regulations on Civil Servants’ Applications for Leave does not contain such term, it is essential that the central government’s DGPA issue relevant directives for the city government to follow.