Taiwan’s Ministry of Labor issued The Guidelines of Occupational Safety and Health for the Night Shift (the “Guidelines”) after several high-profile physical attacks on convenience store workers by members of the public. In Taiwan, there are over 11,000 convenience stores, one of the highest concentrations in the world. Taiwanese convenience stores have taken on some functions of post offices, banks, ticket offices and governmental agencies, and thus are often an important center for communities.
The Guidelines, announced on 1 December 2021, aim to protect night shift workers from violence while enhancing their physical safety and mental health. While the Guidelines are advisory in nature, they have attracted attention due to the high-profile nature of the attacks.
The Guidelines provide employers with an assessment framework to improve the safety of their workers and ensure that the workplace is free from violence. The main items employers should consider include:
Working Environment and Health and Safety Facilities
The employers should ensure employees can work in a safe workplace. As such, they should assess workplace comfort, security monitoring devices such as CCTV, appropriate staffing, and emergency mechanism systems, such as how and when police can be called.
Personal Safety Protection
The employer should install appropriate security alarm systems according to the actual risk level of the workplace. The system should be properly maintained and tested on a regular basis.
If a violent incident occurs, employers should provide necessary medical, legal, and other supportive measures.
Physical and Mental Health Management
Employers should evaluate employees’ health status based on their individual circumstances, as well as the type of night work performed. Employers should think how often night work is performed by an individual employee, and whether the night work is, short term, long term, regular or irregular. Employers should take appropriate action to make sure that employee health is not negatively impacted by night work.
Emergency Response Mechanism
The emergency response mechanism should be established in accordance with the nighttime staffing and actual needs of the workplace. Also, the workplace should set up safe zones for emergency situations.
To enhance employees’ risk awareness and basic knowledge of emergency response, employers should provide regular on-site training.
We expect the Guidelines to provide a safer, healthier, and friendlier working environment for night workers. While they are not mandatory, the public outcry over these physical attacks will likely encourage businesses with night shifts to evaluate their workplace health and safety policies. If you have any questions on Taiwan employment law, please contact Christine Chen at firstname.lastname@example.orgWritten January 3, 2022 By Christine Chen, Megan Chiu.