I have a contact who works at a big (rich) Taiwanese company, and they sent me this picture showing the company’s announced policy for giving bonuses/red envelopes for people working over the lunar new year holiday.
It says that regular workers get a bonus of NT$2,000 per day if they work on Lunar New Year Eve or New Year Day, and NT$1,500 per day for working on the other holiday days.
But if you’re a foreign worker who has to work during the holiday, your bonus is only NT$200 and NT$100 per day, respectively.
Really appalling discrimination, and the tiny amount is obscene.
Is this kind of pay discrimination common amongst Taiwanese companies?
Surely it should be against the law?
If their excuse is that lunar new year isn’t “special” for those foreign workers, I bet they don’t give any additional bonus on foreign workers’ “special” days, such as Christmas, Songkran or Eid.
Sometimes Taiwan really doesn’t do itself any favours…
Actually, I don’t work there myself. My contact is Taiwanese, and they were pretty shocked at such a blatant discriminatory policy posted on their company’s noticeboard, which is why they showed it to me. I guess they could get a photo with the company info.
But I’m not sure what can be done then, as we don’t know anyone who is directly affected (and who might take it further). I wouldn’t want to cause problems for my contact by taking action separately, but I can certainly pass on any suggestions if they wanted to take it further.
In my company this is nuanced as DL (direct labor) vs IDL (indirect labor). So on Wednesday I’ll get a bonus of one months salary. DL will get a bonus of NTD1000. But DL are temporary hires and not permanent headcount so it’s really hard to make this an issue. Different compensation system.
If it were a company I worked for and I saw that, I’d tell them I’m going to take those days off like everyone else. Not worth my time to go in for that little bonus while everyone else is out enjoying the holidays.
Yeah well in this case they get a whole NTD200 extra per day. It’s pure slave labor, Taiwanese view wailao as a lower form of human.
But how to fight it?
On the plus side, in my company customer audits are starting to force changes to be made. We got called out for the traditional naming and shaming production line disciplinary actions so that has at least stopped.
I joke with my wife all the time about “the foreigner getting it in the neck again” but the microdiscrimination here doesn’t really bother me. It’s just little people doing petty things in my world view. I worked in a Taiwanese tech company for two years and banged my head up against the bamboo ceiling there pretty hard because I didn’t see it coming. Just went out and started my own company and never looked back. Maybe there’s something wrong with me because it doesn’t really bother me. Just speed bumps on the road to success.
Only because it doesn’t affect you now in your business so much . However discrimination affects all of is in one way or another. Sometimes we get positive discrimination, but mostly the legal and social setup here is heavily discriminating against foreigners and said foreigners to become citizens . that’s why I don’t think Taiwan is a good place for foreigners to immigrate to actually (sad to say for somebody who has spent a good part of their life here).
For holiday pay, legally, the question is not whether the worker is foreign but whether the job is subject to the Labor Standards Act. The Ministry of Labor maintains that list (somewhere).
In the current (2020-6-10) version of the LSA, the list of applicable holidays is no longer kept in the Enforcement Rules of the LSA. Instead, LSA Art. 37 gives the Ministry of the Interior the authority to decide which holidays are worthy of being days off. The MOI’s list is here, and in Art. 4 we can see four consecutive days for CNY (1 day for 除夕 and 3 days for 春節, which would be the 初一 to 初三 of OP’s screenshot). In accordance with LSA Art. 39, the employer must pay the worker’s wages as usual for these (and various other) days, and if the worker agrees to work on these days, the employer must pay double.
If both parties agree to swap holidays for regular days, that’s fine, but then the substitute holidays are subject to the same rule: regular pay or double pay. For part-time workers, it’s more complicated (I’m sure there’s a thread somewhere…).
Of course, if the working person is not a worker (勞工) in the legal sense, the LSA flies out the window, but in general this will not be the case for a large company with a large workforce, unless the job in question is not on the MOL’s list.
As for these (apparent) bonuses, if they are “special payment for Spring Festival” (春節⋯給與之節金), then under LSA-ER Art. 10 Subpar. 3, they do not count as part of the wages. (They won’t be “year-end bonuses” i.e. 年終獎金 as in Subpar. 2 because that refers to the bonus calculated from the employer’s annual profit, but if they were they would also be excluded.) On the other hand, if these payments do not qualify as Subpar. 3 “special payments”, it seems they must be wages, even if the employer calls them bonuses (LSA Art. 2 Subpar. 3).
Whatever the payments are, if they are prescribed by the worker’s contract, the employer has a good cover story (“they just didn’t negotiate hard enough to get the higher tier of CNY bonuses”). If the contract simply states that the payments will be determined by Party A, the cover story is still there, but the screenshot makes it look dubious. If the contract says nothing about these payments, then it’s hard to spin this case as anything other than discrimination on the basis of nationality.
If the contract itself doesn’t determine the calculation of these payments, but the work rules do (with the same wording as in the screenshot), then because the work rules are supposed to apply to all workers, the employer can’t reasonably claim that anyone is subject to the discriminatory rule because of failure to negotiate out of it.
As a starting point, I would contact the local labor department (whichever city the workplace is located in, or any of the multiple cities where the company employs foreign workers, as the case may be). A complaint may be submitted anonymously (i.e. the labor department knows who the complainant is but isn’t allowed to tell the employer without the complainant’s permission). If you’re not employed by the company, there’s no point in mediation, but you can still ask the section of the department dealing with labor standards inspections to look into it.
If that doesn’t go anywhere, the Control Yuan might take an interest, and you can probably find an NGO that would be interested.