Salary, Overtime, Business Trips, Holidays

Hi everybody,

I am currently discussing contract details for my future employment as salesperson at a medium-size Taiwanese company. However, I am not only new in the field of sales, but also new in Taiwan. Therefore, I am not really sure what to go for. Can anyone help me out?

I have basically the following questions:

  • How high should the salary be?
  • Should overtime be compensated for (weekdays/weekends)?
  • How much should I get paid for business trips outside of Taiwan (weekdays/weekends)?
  • How many holidays (apart of national holidays) can I ask for?
  • How many months are usually paid a year? I heard many firms pay an extra 2 months for Chinese new year.
  • Should the company pay for my insurance (labor insurance/National Health Insurance)?
  • Is there anything else I should mention in my contract? Am I forgetting any important aspect?

Here a short description of the work in offer:

  • Taiwanese medium-size company
  • From Monday to Friday (8.30 - 17.30; one hour lunch brake): 40 hours/week
  • Overtime is expected; there might be meetings etc. on weekends; I might have to go on business trips outside of Taiwan once a while
  • I will be the first and only foreigner working there
  • Working languages: mostly Chinese and English
  • One year contract that can later be extended

Additionally a short description of my qualifications:

  • Master of Arts from European University: Chinese Studies
  • Languages: English (fluent), German (fluent), Spanish (fluent), Chinese (advanced), French (basic)
  • A lot of foreign experience (lived in Beijing for two years)
  • Have some working experience, but not in sales

Please let me know if there are any important information missing in order to get a good picture. What do you guys think? I would be really happy to get some suggestions.


Not knowing the company in question, I can only reply in generalities. As a business English trainer, I’ve had an opportunity to see the inner-workings of several local and foreign companies employing foreigners, but my information is anecdotal. Examples I offer are not meant to be universal or representative of the whole situation here, just what I’ve personally witnessed.

Your salary will be whatever you can negotiate. You say you have no sales experience and you are new to Taiwan, so that may not factor well in your negotiations. If it’s a sales job, maybe they will do a low salary + commission or performance based incentive?

What I’ve seen in local companies hiring foreigners, the monthly salary is higher than locals, they often include a ticket home for a visit, but no participation in the annual bonus structure. Bonuses for local employees can range from 1 - 6+ months of salary, depending on the industry and the company’s profit.

Overtime is expected and rarely compensated. Foreigners who stick to their principles and walk out at quitting time because they know they are not going to be compensated for OT are resented by their local co-workers. Although they may exist, I don’t know a single office worker who works the hours you mentioned. An office worker I know is usually at his office from 9:30am - 8:30pm or later. He has a Bachelors from NTU, the top uni in Taiwan, and a Masters from a non-famous US uni, and makes about NT$36K/month + usually 1 month annual bonus. He is entitled to 10 vacation days, I think, but rarely gets them. Too busy. Not a high paying industry, but maybe not all that uncommon for local office workers.

Business travel expenses are compensated, but companies penny pinch. Don’t expect any boondoggles.

By “holidays” do you mean vacation days? (Sorry, I am American.) Taiwan businesses are not generous in that department, but you might be able to negotiate for a week or two.

The premiums for NHI are split by law between the government, the employer and the employee. The amount we pay is negligible.

Not sure what to tell you about your contract. At the end of the day, if your company wants you do to something outside your contract (common in Taiwan) and you refuse, sticking to the contract… buh-bye.

That you are the first and only foreigner to work there, I would expect culture shock for both parties. Be flexible.

Again, my information is just anecdotal and not meant to be representative of Taiwan as a whole. Hopefully others will add their :2cents: and you can extrapolate.

- How high should the salary be?sales positions, depending on what you are selling will be base pay + bonus. see what they offer you first. they’ll always ask you what your ‘salary expectation’ is…
- Should overtime be compensated for (weekdays/weekends)?as per the labor law, you will be compensated(a few hours per week only), but sales positions in Taiwan include a lot of site visits, meetings, chances are your ot will be just part of your salary. a trick in taiwan is to schedule a meeting just as 5 o’clock is rolling around…guess what you stuck in the office.
- How much should I get paid for business trips outside of Taiwan (weekdays/weekends)?you probably won’t. just get reimbursed for everything.
- How many holidays (apart of national holidays) can I ask for?labor law says in the first year you get 7, be it that you complete the first year. factor in cny, stat holidays and some medium sized companies still follow the old traditional holidays, which amount to an extra 10 days off. the avg gov’t worker gets about 130 days off per year(with weekends)
- How many months are usually paid a year? I heard many firms pay an extra 2 months for Chinese new year.
14 months pay in a contract is standard.[i]

  • Should the company pay for my insurance (labor insurance/National Health Insurance)?[/i]YES
    - Is there anything else I should mention in my contract? Am I forgetting any important aspect?how wonderful a person you are and why you are worth the one million US you are asking for per year.

The labor law says you get zero in the first year. Seven days is what you get from the second year of your employment, and they start adding days on at some pathetic rate for every year after that.

Being a foreigner, you could probably negotiate for a week or two off in your first year “to go home and visit your family”. Make sure that your holidays are written into your contract.

The government holidays may well fall on a weekend (not for the rest of this year, but last year was pretty bad) - January 1st 2012 will be a Sunday, for example. Taiwanese companies do not usually give a day off in lieu and the majority of Taiwanese are confused by the concept.

Overtime, very unlikely to get paid. Longer working hours are the norm but varies a lot by company. Some of the world’s worst public holidays.

Hard to get 13/14mths as a foreigner as they will pay you more than locals usually but take on the other hand by just offering 12 mths. But go in and ask anyway for 13mths at least. That is a mandatory bonus. Depending on individual/company performance there is an extra bonus alloted, small medium size companies are not very generous with bonuses or salary.