New work rules to hit service, old-economy sectors hardest: survey

Newly implemented work rules on vacation days and a 40-hour work week will have the biggest impact on the service, old-economy and retail sectors, according to the results of a survey published by an online human resources firm Wednesday.

The firm, 1111.com.tw, said the new rules that took effect on Dec. 23 after the Legislature revised the Labor Standards Act have seriously affected the labor market and will test the flexibility of businesses as they respond to the changes.

The survey of local businesses found that 77 percent of respondents did not fully understood the new system, and 4.5 percent said they did not understand it at all.

Some 36.8 percent of respondents said they have a partial understanding of the system and 35.6 percent said they understood most of it but still had some questions.

Sixty-eight percent of respondents expected the new rules to affect their operations, including 12.2 percent that believe they will "have a big impact." The businesses most likely to see the new rules hurting them are in the service, retail and old-economy sectors.

Businesses cited "personnel cost increases," "difficulties in meeting staffing requirements," and "a big increase in overtime pay" as the main challenges they faced in coping with the new regulations.

Affected businesses said they were "changing their shift schedules," "adding part-time workers," and "hiring full-time workers" in response.

The results were part of a survey on the willingness of businesses to hire people in the first quarter in 2017, in which 33 percent of respondents felt the economy is getting better, 47 percent said it would be about the same as last year, and 20 percent thought the economy would get worse.

On the willingness of businesses to hire people, 61.7 percent of respondents said they intended to take on more staff in the first quarter, with the companies most likely to hire in the service, medical, agricultural, livestock and information and technology sectors.

The businesses identified "filling vacancies," "regular recruitment," and "searching for talent at a time when many people are changing jobs" as the main reasons for looking to hire people at this time.

Under the new work rules, total maximum working hours have been reduced to 40 hours a week from 84 hours every two weeks previously, and workers are now entitled to one mandatory day off and one "flexible" rest day a week, all measures that could increase operating costs.

Employers face much higher overtime costs than normal if they have employees work on the "flexible" day off, and they are not allowed to have employees work on the mandatory day off because the rules mandate that workers can work no more than six days in a row.

The survey was conducted Dec. 15-30 and collected 674 valid samples. No margin of error was given.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel