Taipei, May 9 (CNA) The number of workers on official furlough programs in Taiwan fell by more than 400 in the past week as a foreign airline terminated its unpaid leave program, the Ministry of Labor (MOL) said Monday.
Data compiled by the MOL showed the number of workers on unpaid leave programs reported to the ministry fell to 14,389 as of May 7, down 416 from the previous report released on May 2.
The number of companies with furlough programs in place also dropped 69 from a week earlier to 2,286, the data showed.
Huang Wei-chen (黃維琛), director of the MOL’s Department of Labor Standards and Equal Employment, said the decline in the number of furloughed workers came largely after a foreign carrier reinstated about 300 employees to a regular work schedule.
Huang said that after the MOL checked with the carrier, it said it had no plans to put the unpaid leave program back in place in the near future after ending it last week.
He would not identify the airline or disclose further information about its situation.
The airline industry is hoping Taiwan will ease its border controls soon after many other economies have lifted their restrictions, which would boost passenger volumes.
During the past week, the transportation and logistics/warehousing industry saw the number of furloughed workers fall to 1,142 from 1,501, MOL data showed.
Huang said hope that border controls might be eased has also led travel agencies, which are part of the “support services” sector, to change their reporting of unpaid leave programs to the MOL to once a month instead of once every three months as in the past.
The change showed that many travel agencies want to be more flexible to be able to respond to changes in government policy, he said.
Still, the number of furloughed workers in the support services sector rose slightly to 8,692 as of May 7 from 8,677 a week earlier, while the number of employers in the industry with unpaid leave programs in place fell to 1,401 from 1,412, according to the MOL.
Despite the rising number of domestic COVID-19 cases, the local lodging and food/beverage and retail/wholesale industries saw limited impact on their employment, Huang said.
In the week, the number of unpaid leave workers in the lodging and food/beverage industry rose by only 33 to 1,135, while the number in the retail/wholesale industry fell to 967 from 971, the data showed.
In the manufacturing sector, the number of furloughed workers fell slightly to 1,254 from 1,259 the previous week, the MOL said.
The MOL updates its furloughed worker data on the 1st, 8th, 16th, and 24th of every month, reporting unpaid leave numbers at companies that have registered their furlough programs with the ministry.
Most of the enterprises implementing furlough programs are small firms that employ fewer than 50 people. The unpaid leave programs typically last for less than three months, with employees taking five to eight days of unpaid leave per month, according to the MOL.
(By Chang Hsiung-feng and Frances Huang)


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