Labor Laws: the working week and more

Friends, I am fascinated by the working hours that many Taiwanese endure… I see many folks, especially those working for busy big corporations, can work much more than the “legal limit” of 44 hours; some people seem to work 60 hours without thinking about what they are doing… Does anybody know what would happen if people simply decided to obey the law and go home at a reasonable hour? After all, in really big companies, there doesn’t appear to be anything but an automatic system of bonuses and maybe no commissions at all… Any opinions on this, or theories of human nature?

Personally, I feel that the labor situation and the long hours reveal an unevolved social estate… It’s too greaserly gright for my taste…

How about pregnancy-leave? Anybody know about that? In mainland China, that “repressive” place where nobody talks about anything, women are entitled to 6-months after-birth leave… What about Taiwan? Is there any such law? I think in Canada, women are legally entitled to two to three months after-birth leave… Any information about the official situation here in Taiwan would be appreciated…


I voluntarily work long hours. I have never heard of anyone forced to.

Ya, 4abudabit, but you don’t count because you live in America, which knows nothing about worker’s rights… I am talking about laws here, not whether or not you enjoy being a corporate slave or not… I enjoy being a slave sometimes, too, and don’t mind coming in to get the job done, I am just trying to decipher the psyche at play here in Taiwan: is it fear? Is it stupidity, or just staying in school thru the evening?

I want to know if women have the right to pregnancy leave in Taiwan… Does anyone know?

You know, you do a huge diservice to people who are actually forced through the horror that is slavery by suggesting that people that enjoy thier jobs are slaves.

Yes. Women get maternity leave here. Two months paid leave and the option of a further two years unpaid, whereby the woman’s job must be kept open for her should she wish to return.

Draconian, isn’t it?

Those bastards!

Sandman, but I hesitate to believe a word you are saying because these “laws”, if they exist, are seldom ever actually respected or practiced here in Taiwan… I know, some people at my company had babies, and they were back at work the very next week after having their baby… I didn’t see them taking any two months and even if they are entitled to it by law, I don’t think this company would allow them to do it… I think a lot of companies in Taiwan bully their employees into working like slaves, and in America, too: it’s part of the false-security system…

And 4abudubit, I guess I don’t really like to work at all: I am a novelist, not a hack manque, just putting in time to save enough money to run away from this hideous place to write… Sorry for offending your puritanical sensibilities…

Jeez, Popo, what are you doing up there in Beitou? Making sneakers?

I think the current maternity laws are very recent. Anyhow, I guess its up to the individual. One woman in my office gave birth a few weeks ago and I know she’s doing the two-year thing.

On the other hand, someone else in the same department just went out into the parking lot and dropped her sprog between two parked cars. She was back at her desk in 20 minutes.

Go figure.

(For the irony/sarcasm-challenged among you, please don’t burst into flame – I made one of these stories up. Can you guess which one?)

Popo is fairly correct from what I’ve seen. People have rights here, but often the company is free to curtail or change those rights, either legally or not. This is probably due partially to the work culture in Taiwan (people can’t believe I’d take a whole day off just because I had a friend I hadn’t seen in years come to Taiwan) – possibly this is because everyone’s trying to get ahead, and in Taiwan, generally speaking, getting ahead is based more on office politics and brown-nosing than actual ability or efficiency. (So those people who take twice as long to do everything – and have to work overtime – are looked much more favorably than those that can get things done right quickly the first time…)
The other reason, which I truly don’t like, is that the government cares more about businesses than people. If you actually look at the laws, workers get things such as holidays and ‘typhoon holidays’ off but companies can still require them to work if the company wants. It’s not really stated anywhere that company’s can’t do this – its not illegal. I was actually docked pay for not coming in during an announced, official typhoon holiday last year, and there was nothing I could do about (well, except quit, which I did ). Simply amazing.

I would tend to guess that Sandman must be working in a foreign-owned operation like a bank or something… Tell us if you like… Because I am working in an all-Taiwan corporation, and my experience reflects LittleIron’s situation exactly… I would be very surprised to see any woman actually ask for, much less receive, the right to take two-months PAID leave! I don’t even think that my colleagues are aware of such a “new” law! I am really tempted to do some labor agitation around here – to get the girls their legal due. (Any further leads would be appreciated…) Of course, my agitation would likely fall on deaf ears and people are so quiet about asserting “individual” rights because that tends to go against what LittleIron described as Taiwan “corporate culture”… I feel that it is fear of being your own boss, really: people in this country are not encouraged to stand-up for their rights! They are encouraged to submit themselves to authority and never question anything… Of course, I find hard-workers admirable, but I am a little bit terrified of blind following and imitation for the sake of reflecting the correct social conformity… I wonder if we will see some positive evolution in the future?

Finally, if anyone can refer me to an online source for the new labor laws, especially the ones involving the hours of work and the pregnancy and after-birth leave, please let me know…


Well, Sandman, I am making books about how to operate hardware...  I just completed a new and entirely original one for a change - (Usually tech-writing is simply cut and paste, but now and then we have to figure out how to work the software and get the unit to function properly...)  So, I enjoy the job when I can be creative, etc...

double-post, sorry…

That Maternity Law IS very new. Just a few months old, so you’d have to wait and see if companies will respect it and if there will be any legal redress if they don’t. From what I can tel, there are quite a lot fo labour laws and ways people can get their labor grievances solved, but most people aren’t aware of htem and don’t use them.


As people have rightly mentioned the Maternity Law is new, and is - at least in the case of my wife - being adhered too by local companies.
For peoples info, Sandman is slightly wrong in his detail of paid leave, it is not for two months but for 56 days including weekends from the point you give up working. In our case she stopped from 28th Feb and had to return on 26th April. Though he is correct about the two year bit.
Whether or not local companies in general respect this or not really depends on the Authorities desire to prosecute and penalise those companies that dont and therefore make examples out of them.

However, as there is a reasonable lack of respect not only for the Laws but also a desire to uphold those Laws then it is only time that will determine if they are to be successful or not.


Man, I gotta get back over there! I worked over 100 hours last week.

Thank GOD for OT.

quote[quote]Thank GOD for OT.[/quote]

That’s because you’re in the States, so you get “time and a half” for all overtime. But here in Taiwan, most people get ZERO for overtime, yet their bosses force them to be workoholics, so it really is “slave labor”. For example, my wife (who is Taiwanese) used to have a job where she was forced to work from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm Monday to Saturday, which is 66 hours a week (including lunch breaks). As soon as she started working, she found out right away that her boss was forcing her to be a workoholic, but the “regular working hours” were never written down, and she was paid “per month”, not “per hour”, so there was no way she could prove that she was being forced to work 66 hours a week. And at her interview, she signed a contract for one year, so she couldn’t quit until her year was up because otherwise they wouldn’t give her the last month’s salary, which would have meant even much more hours of work without pay. (The paychecks were always purposely given exactly one month late just so that if anyone quits before their year is up, they would lose at least one month’s salary.)

My personal experience has tought me that it is not a matter of bosses being unfair. But the whole society.
Taiwan is the first country I’ve seen where legislation goes faster than public recall. That is that people have not really fought for their rights; so they dont appreciate it.
I’ll just put an example: I am a foreigner so I have special rights as a foreigner in my company. So each extr hour I do I get 1 hour off.Well its my workmates who come to me discriminating me for taking holidays (when they are extra hours I worked).
Indeed what I find is that there is nothing like a fighting for their rights attitude in Taiwanese, on the other hand the worse ones are the same workers who pressure their coworkers to work more . Its like and internal competition to see who works more hours (which is different to being efficient or doing more work) to impress the boss.
This is the main challange I find in Taiwan.
Its impossible to talk about human rights because they think they dont need them.

And please, if you are taiwanese and are activly fighting in your company to create a trade union, or are working to make your rights as a worker be respected, please please tell me. You are then the short term hope for human rights in taiwan.

Over time without pay in Taiwan is a fact of life. If you ask for compensation you risk losing your job. This is especially true for traditional Taiwan companies. Foreign company’s may also be prone to this simply because the boss is Taiwanese and most workers are Taiwanese thus they are afraid of there Taiwan boss and they will work late without complaint.

ROC laws on labor unions are very restrictive like one company, one union. The idea of collective bargaining across several companies like the American Auto Workers or National Education Association in the USA is impossible. Then there are the Taiwanese dirty tricks of the employers whom fire organizers or form a pro-management union with their proxies. One company, one union.

On top to this, 50% of the Taiwan middle class is self-employed and are concentrated in the secondary tiers of industry. Come on, there are 11 carmakers in Taiwan with an overcapacity not reaching 50% production rates in many cases.

And the ROC technocrats were quite obessessed with power when they organized the Taiwan economy to become state-owned enterprises. That is, all primary industries are state-owned or are politically-connected. Organizing these larger SOEs is the top priority of closet Marxist-Leninists in Taiwan politics. Again, the rules are not in their favor of a worker society as the KMT structured their entire model society on Taiwan with political control against communist subversions based upon a KMT one-party system of Quasi-Leninism. Fighting CCP fire with KMT fire was its primary objective. Obession with control is the Chinese systematic constraint of economic productivity in their businesses and societies. The KMT system was the Chinese bureaucratic nightmare come true. It also made Taiwan the most politically stable country in Asia despite its diplomatic problems.