The rights of pregnant migrant workers in Taiwan are still forgotten – Grace Huang/Catta Yu-Hsuan Choueayanadminno2
Author: Grace Huang, Secretary-General, Domestic Caretaker Union
Translated by Catta Yu-Hsuan Chou, EAYAN Program Participant
[See below for the original]
If a migrant caregiver is pregnant, can she continue her work? Can she deliver the child in Taiwan? Can she enjoy the pregnancy-checkup leave and maternity leave? The above answers are all “yes,” but in fact, very few migrant caregivers can use their rights regarding maternity leaves in Taiwan.
Like all Taiwanese workers, migrant caregivers are applicable to the Act of Gender Equality in Employment. They can enjoy 5 days of pregnancy-checkup leave before delivery and 8 weeks of maternity leave before and after delivery. If they have a miscarriage or choose to have an abortion, they are also entitled to have a five days to four weeks of leave. If an employer unilaterally dismisses a pregnant caregiver, he/she will be fined ranging from NTD 300,000 to 1.5 million for violating the law.
The law seems to have adequate protection to pregnant female workers. However, migrant caretakers still suffer from pressure from the employer and his/her family. Migrant workers might sign a paper to terminate the contract and/or even agree to return to their home country voluntarily which make them lose their right to work in Taiwan. The Ministry of Labor recently released an explanation document saying that pregnant migrant workers may extend the working permission expiration date after their delivery for two months during the previous contract termination and transferring employers, if they cannot find a new job during pregnancy.
It seems that the explanation document from the Ministry of Labor relieves the pressure of deportation for migrant workers. However, there is still no protection for the working rights of pregnant migrant workers. An unemployed pregnant migrant worker does not have any income and has nowhere to stay. At the same time, they do not have the support from their family members (because they are too far away). They might have difficulties to go through the pregnancy period of time without support. They might have difficulties to prepare the supplies for the newborn. Some migrant caretakers have a slightly better employer and slightly better working situation that they can have 8 weeks of maternity leave. But this is totally not enough. Since caretakers are not subject to the Labor Standard Law, their employers are not obliged to pay wages during the leave.
In addition, whether migrant workers give birth in their hometown or in Taiwan, they
have only 8 weeks of maternity leave to plan for the placement of the newborn. In addition, according to the airline company notice, pregnant women with more than 28 to 32 weeks cannot be on board. Obviously, a 8-week maternity leave is far from sufficient for migrant workers. From pregnancy, childbirth to childcare, it is a very challenging process for migrant caretakers. This is because they not only live with the employer family, but also work for 24 hours a day. On the other hand, the employer families usually have intensive long-term care needs. How to balance the rights of migrant workers and the rights of dependent (the one who is being take care of) has become an issue.
Under the one-on-one care model, a migrant worker become pregnant meaning that the employer has to spend more money to maintain the quality of care. The current long-term care policy in Taiwan excludes the support subsidy for families with migrant workers. Without the support of public resources, the disadvantaged family are more likely to fall into a vulnerable situation.