By Sean Lin / Staff reporter
The Legislative Yuan yesterday passed amendments to the Employment Service Act （就業服務法）, including the introduction of a rule that would require employment agencies to report any case of sexual assault, human trafficking, restriction of personal freedom, grievous bodily harm or homicide perpetrated against migrant workers.
The rule stipulates that employment agencies must report to local governments, the National Immigration Agency, police or other law enforcement bodies within 24 hours of learning of any of the aforementioned crimes perpetrated against migrant workers by their employers, proxies of their employers, or hired intermediaries responsible for the employment of the worker.
Employment agencies that contravene this rule could have their operating permit revoked, which would bar perpetrators or their proxies from applying to establish a new agency for five years.
Another amendment tightens the rules on employers or employment agencies that report migrant workers as missing persons.
Under existing regulations, a migrant’s work permit is revoked if they remain absent for 72 hours after their employer or employment agency notifies the local government of their absence, with the worker then subject to arrest.
The amendment requires employers to provide authorities with a detailed written record and evidence of any absence without official leave.
Informants who file false claims are subject to a fine of NT$30,000 to NT$150,000 （US$974 to US$4,868）.
Any travel restriction imposed on a migrant worker as a result of a false claim should be lifted and their work permit reinstated, it says.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wu Yu-chin （吳玉琴）, who proposed the amendments, said the first amendment aims to improve the safety of migrant workers, especially caregivers, who are more susceptible to violence and sexual harassment in the workplace, while the second amendment would improve the protection of their right to employment.
An amendment was also passed requiring that employers openly state the salary or salary range of a job vacancy that pays a monthly salary of less than NT$40,000.
Employers that contravene this rule would be fined between NT$60,000 and NT$300,000, it says.
Low salaries have become an issue of national security, with Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics data showing that 728,000 Taiwanese worked overseas last year, many of whom opted to do so to earn higher pay, said Chinese Nationalist Party （KMT） Legislator Arthur Chen （陳宜民）, who proposed the amendment.
The new Labor Dispute Act （勞動事件法） was also passed yesterday.
The act covers disputes arising from unions, their members or union rules; disputes involving student participating in internship programs; cases of gender discrimination in the workplace; and vocational hazards.
The act stipulates that courts at all levels should establish labor courts or a special labor section if the court is short-staffed.
Each labor court should be presided over by a judge and two arbitration officers with expertise on labor law or with experience in legal cases involving labor disputes, it says.
Workers or unions, which are often at a financial disadvantage compared with their employer, can have two-thirds of their court fees waived if they bring a lawsuit against their employer for disputes over contracts, wages, severance pay and pensions, it says.
If workers are charged an enforcement fee of at least NT$200,000 after winning a lawsuit, they can pay the fee after claiming the payment they are owed by their employer, it says.