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Number of furloughed workers in Taiwan edges up
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Taipei, Aug. 3 (CNA) The number of furloughed workers in Taiwan rose over the past week as activity in the manufacturing sector slowed due to the economic impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Ministry of Labor (MOL).

As the end of July, 1,122 companies had unpaid leave programs, while a total of 27,058 workers had agreed to go on furlough, up 1,877 from a week earlier, data compiled by the MOL showed.

Among the companies that have furlough programs, 372 are manufacturers, 346 retailers or wholesalers, and 80 in the service sector, the data showed.

The majority of employees on unpaid leave were in the manufacturing sector at 17,508, followed by the retail and wholesale industry with 4,891, and the transportation and warehousing sector at 1,595.

Huang Wei-chen, deputy director of the MOL's Department of Labor Standards and Equal Employment, said the increase in furloughs can be attributed to slowing activity in the manufacturing sector, as overseas demand for Taiwan's exports declines due to the pandemic.

Manufacturers of machine tools and textiles, as well as traders in the retail and wholesale sector have been hardest hit, Huang said, noting that the international transportation and travel industries have also been impacted.

Although the government's stimulus vouchers have helped boost local tourism, the industry's long-term outlook remains uncertain, he added.

Most of the enterprises implementing furlough programs are small firms with workforces of fewer than 50 people, the ministry said, noting that these unpaid leave programs typically last for fewer than three months and involve employees taking five to eight days of unpaid leave per month.

The MOL updates furloughed worker data on a weekly basis. In addition, the numbers only include unpaid leave plans put in place by companies that are reported to the ministry.

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