Elizabeth Pai and Weke Chen
The Legislative Yuan adopted the amendments to the Act of Gender Equality in Employment in the third reading on December 28, 2021. The amendments came into effect on January 18, 2022. These amendments are highlighted below:
1. The days of pregnancy checkup leave increase from 5 to 7.
2. To promote the participation of employees in their spouses’ pregnancy and pregnancy checkups and to enhance the fulfillment of their parental responsibilities, the previous 5-day paternity leave is changed to 7-day pregnancy checkup accompany and paternity leave. The Enforcement Rules of the Act of Gender Equality in Employment are also amended accordingly as follows: pregnancy checkup accompany leave shall be taken during the pregnancy of the spouse, and paternity leave shall be taken during the period of total 15 days before and after the date of the spouse’s confinement.
3. The employer shall pay the wages for the above pregnancy checkup leave, pregnancy checkup accompany and paternity leave. In addition, an employee may choose to take leaves on a “half-day” or “hourly” basis, which the employer shall not refuse. After an employee has chosen to take leaves on a “half-day” or “hourly” basis, the leave basis shall not be changed (refer to the Lao-Dong-Tiao-4-Zi-1110140008 Interpretation Directive of the Ministry of Labor).
4. To prevent employers from being burdened by these amendments, employers may apply to the Bureau of Labor Insurance for subsidies for the portion of the wages for pregnancy checkup leave, pregnancy checkup accompany and paternity leave in excess of five days (i.e., the wages for the 6th and 7th day) (refer to the Guidelines for Wage Subsidies for Pregnancy Checkup Leave, Pregnancy Checkup Accompany Leave and Paternity Leave).
5. The aforementioned requirement for employers to apply to the Bureau of Labor Insurance for subsidies shall not apply to circumstances where the number of pregnancy checkup leave days and the pregnancy checkup accompany and paternity leave days each exceed five days with payment according to another law (e.g., under the Teacher’s Leave Rule, a pregnant full-time teacher is eligible for an 8-day paid prenatal leave).
6. Before the amendment, Article 19 of the Act of the Gender Equality in Employment only provided that if an employee was employed by an employer with 30 or more employees, such employee might request the employer to reduce the working time by one hour per day or adjust the working time to raise a child under the age of three. After the amendment, an employee employed by an employer with fewer than 30 employees (small and medium enterprises) may negotiate with the employer to apply the aforementioned provision on the reduction of one hour per day or adjustment of working time to raise a child under the age of three.
7. To encourage employees and their spouses to share the responsibility for raising their children, Article 22 of the Act of Gender Equality in Employment is deleted. As a result, employees’ application to take parental leave without payment or family leave doesn’t require the fact that “their spouses are engaged in any gainful employment”. And even if their spouses are not employed, it is not necessary to provide “justifiable reasons” for addressing needs such as taking care of twins (or multiple births) or at least two children under the age of three. The Employment Insurance Act is also amended accordingly (with the amendments also going into effect on January 18, 2022) to provide that if employees and their spouses are both the insured covered by employment insurance, they are both eligible for a salary allowance for parental leave without payment.