Employers subject to penalties for firing pregnant foreign workers

Taipei--It is illegal in Taiwan for employers to sack foreign workers who are pregnant, have given birth, or are raising children during their service, with violators subject to penalties, including a fine of up to NT$1.5 million (US$49,900), the Ministry of Labor (MOL) reiterated Wednesday.

Such employers' permits to hire foreign workers will be revoked and they will be banned from employing foreign workers, the MOL said in a report to the legislative Environmental Hygiene Committee.

The committee invited MOL officials for discussions that day on the impact of foreign workers who give birth in Taiwan on the country's population policy.

The ministry declared in August last year that Taiwan has revised labor regulations to remove pregnancy testing from the list of medical tests required for foreign workers, out of protection for maternity and respect for international human rights.

Under the Act of Gender Equality in Employment and the Regulations Governing Management of the Health Examination of Employed Aliens, employers are not permitted to discriminate against or sack foreign workers if they are pregnant or give birth during their employment in Taiwan.

Employers are banned from terminating their contracts with foreign workers early, or forcing them to leave the country if they are pregnant or give birth, according to the law.

The MOL noted on Wednesday that if foreign workers give birth during their employment and are capable of raising their children, they are allowed to stay, along with their children.

If they are treated inappropriately by their employers, such workers can call the toll-free hotline 1955 for help, the ministry added.

Apart from this protection, the MOL has also approved a proposal to subsidize institutions or foster homes that agree to look after non-native children left abandoned by their mothers after birth.

The planned subsidies, which are set to begin on June 1, will be NT$17,500 per month for each child settled, the MOL said, estimating that 45 children will qualify for the settlement this year, for a total cost of NT$5.5 million.

At the legislative committee hearing, Labor Minister Lin Mei-chu (???) explained that the new measure was brought up at the request of the Presidential Office's Human Rights Consultant Committee and the Executive Yuan to give humanitarian assistance to non-native children whose mothers abandon them or are unwilling to take them back to their home countries.

Lin rebutted media reports that the government will spend NT$2 billion per year caring for children of foreign workers.

According to government data, the number of children born to foreigners -- including white-collar workers, students and migrant workers -- in Taiwan reached over 7,000 in the period from 2007 to March 2017.

As of Jan. 31, a total of 121 non-native children were settled in social welfare institutions, including 45 whose mothers were unable to be located or who had left Taiwan, the data indicates.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel