When an employer needs to dismiss a certain amount of its Taiwan workforce over a defined period of time, the employer must comply with the provisions of the Act for Worker Protection of Mass Redundancy (the “MRA”). Any employer who does not follow the procedures under the MRA may be subject to administrative fines of up to NT$500,000. Mass layoffs are quickly becoming a prominent issue in Taiwan, with a total of 4,357 employees reported to the Ministry of Labor having been laid off during the period of January to April 2016 alone.
As Taiwan is not an at-will termination jurisdiction, any termination must comply with the Labor Standards Act (the “LSA”). Any employee termination in Taiwan must be made pursuant to one or more of the specific causes set forth under Article 11 and 12 of the LSA, and the employer must provide advance notice (or an amount in lieu thereof), severance pay, and any outstanding payments or benefits where an employee is terminated for any of the causes stipulated under Article 11. The most commonly used causes for termination under the LSA are where the employer’s business suffers operating losses or business contractions, where the employer’s business is transferred, or where there is a change in the nature of the business which necessitates a reduction of workforce.
The Ministry of Labor has the power to restrict the representatives or responsible persons of an employer from leaving Taiwan if the employer does not meet its obligations under the MRA. While the LSA sets statutory entitlements for all employees in Taiwan, the MRA must be followed where an employer intends to terminate a significant portion of its workforce over a defined period of time.
Whether the MRA applies to the employer’s intended layoff plan hinges on the number of employees the employer intends to lay off at each separate office location or work site (each, a “Site”). The employer will be subject to the provisions of the MRA when the number of employees to be laid off at any particular Site exceeds any one or more of the thresholds set out in the table below. These thresholds are based on (i) the number of employees at each Site and (ii) how many of these employees the employer intends to lay off either (a) in a single day, or (b) over the course of sixty days.
|No. of Employees at Site
|No. of Employees to be Laid Off
|> 10 employees
|30 – 200
|> 20 employees
|> 1/3 of workforce
|200 – 500
|> 50 employees
|> 1/4 of workforce
|> 80 employees
|> 1/5 of workforce
|> 100 employees
|> 200 employees
If the number of employees that an employer intends to lay off for any given Site exceeds the applicable single day or sixty day threshold set forth above, then the MRA will apply. Pursuant to the MRA, the employer must create a mass layoff plan (a “Plan”) for each Site where the thresholds are exceeded. Each Plan must include:
- the cause of the mass layoff;
- the department(s) of the business entity affected by the mass layoff;
- the scheduled effective date of the mass layoff;
- the number of employees to be laid off;
- the criteria for selecting the employees to be laid off;
- the method for calculating severance pay; and
- whether the employer will provide any job transition assistance to affected employees.
The Plan must provide the affected employees with at least their minimum statutory entitlements upon termination as set out under the LSA.
An employer seeking to implement a Plan must notify the relevant authorities/agencies or personnel in the following order: (i) local labor authority; (ii) labor union/ labor representatives; (iii) the employees to be laid off. Actual notification requirements for each of these three groups are set forth below:
- Local labor authority. The employer must firstly submit the Plan to the relevant local labor authority. The relevant local labor authority is typically the Department of Labor of the local government nearest the Site.
- Labor union/ labor representatives. If a labor union exists within the business entity at the Site, then the employer must first notify the relevant labor union of the Plan. Absent a labor union, the employer must notify the labor representatives of the labor management committee or conference (the “LMC”).
- Employees. If the Site has no applicable union or LMC, the employer must deliver the Plan to the employees in the department(s) of the Site affected by the Plan. Delivery to these employees must be made publicly, and can be done via email or by posting a visible notice and copy of the Plan at each Site.
The above groups must be notified of any Plan at least 60 days prior to the proposed first termination date. Once notification has occurred, the affected employees and employer must enter into negotiations within 10 days from the start of this 60-day period. An employer cannot dismiss or transfer any of the employees involved in the mass layoff during this negotiation period.
If an agreement between the employer and employees is not reached within 10 days from the commencement of negotiations, the relevant local labor authority will invite the employer and employees to form a negotiating committee to finalize the terms of the Plan. This committee is chaired by a representative of the relevant local labor authority and typically meets every two weeks until an agreement is reached. Where a negotiating committee is formed, the local labor authority will dispatch consulting, employment services and vocational training personnel to the Site to assist affected employees. Employers must set times for such personnel to provide assistance.
At the expiry of the 60-day period, the employer can implement the Plan, provided the laid-off employees are provided all their statutory entitlements under the LSA.
While employers can offer more generous severance packages than that mandated under the LSA, it is not necessary to do so. If an employer seeking to implement a Plan believes that their legal basis for the layoff under the LSA is not strong enough or there is insufficient evidence to support the cause for termination, a more generous package that the statutory minimums offered under the LSA can be provided to the affected employees in order to facilitate a more efficient mass layoff process and reduce the risk of future disputes arising. Generally speaking, Taiwan employees are acutely aware of their minimum entitlements and are likely to try to negotiate for better terms of their termination.
For more information on Taiwan employment matters, please email Christine Chen at email@example.com or call +886 (0) 223118307.
 For the purposes of the MRA, “employees” does not include foreign employees working under work permits or employees on fixed-term contracts.