Taipei, May 2 (CNA) Travel agencies reported the highest growth in the number of workers on official unpaid leave programs in Taiwan over the past week with border controls still in place amid COVID-19, as the number of furloughed workers continued to rise, the Ministry of Labor (MOL) said Monday.
Data compiled by the MOL showed the number of furloughed workers in the support service industry, which is largely comprised of travel agencies, stood at 8,677 as of April 30, up 272 from the previous report released on April 25.
In the week, the number of employers in the support service industry with furlough programs in place also rose from 1,378 to 1,412 the data indicated.
In Taiwan as a whole, the number of workers on unpaid leave rose to 14,805 as of April 30, up 407 from a week earlier, the MOL said.
In addition, the number of companies with furlough programs in place also rose 85 from a week earlier to 2,355, the MOL added.
Speaking to reporters, Wang Chin-jung (王金蓉), deputy head of MOL’s Labor Conditions and Equal Employment Division, said the increase in furloughed workers in the support service industry was the major factor driving the total number in Taiwan in the week.
Most of the travel agencies that introduced furlough programs over the past week were small and medium sized firms, Wang said.
According to the ministry, the support service industry did not only see the highest number of furloughed workers but also the largest number of employers introducing unpaid leave programs as of April 30.
In the week, the number of furloughed workers in the manufacturing sector bucked the upturn, falling from 1,357 to 1,259 as of April 30, while the number of employers in the sector with furlough programs in place rose from 104 to 109, the MOL said.
The fall in the number of furloughed workers in the manufacturing sector came after a machinery provider ended its furlough program having previously placed about 200 workers on unpaid leave, Wang said.
However, a semiconductor supplier placed about 100 of its 200 employees on unpaid leave in the week due to a shortage in production material supplies, Wang added.
Although Taiwan faces a spike in domestically transmitted COVID-19 cases, which has raised concerns over the impact on private consumption, Wang said, domestic consumption-related industries such as lodging and food/beverage retail/wholesale businesses saw a rise of only about 40 and 50 furloughed workers, respectively, in the week.
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.
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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