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109 companies in Taiwan put workers in unpaid leave due to coronavirus fears

The number of unpaid leave workers in Taiwan jumped by over 2,000 in the first two weeks of March as businesses were hurt by a general slowdown caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic, the Ministry of Labor (MOL) said Monday.

As of March 15, a total of 3,835 workers at 109 companies were on unpaid leave, up from 1,662 workers at 41 businesses as of Feb. 29, according to MOL figures.

Most of the additional companies that had workers go on unpaid leave after reaching labor-management agreements were enterprises with fewer than 50 workers, and they generally had workers take off five to eight days per month.

They were generally in the hotel, restaurant, retail and tourism sectors -- those most effected by the COVID-19 pandemic, said Huang Wei-chen (黃維琛), deputy director of the MOL's Department of Labor Standards and Equal Employment.

Just over 1,000 workers in the hospitality sector were on unpaid leave in the first two weeks of March, when some 26 retailers, 12 travel agencies, 15 hotels and 11 restaurants launched unpaid leave programs.

But it was the metal/engineering sector that registered the highest number of furloughed workers in the first two weeks of March at 1,491, a number caused by supply disruptions of components from China, according to Huang.

The tourism and restaurant sectors were hard-hit by a fall in inbound tourists due to travel bans or restrictions imposed by the governments of Taiwan and other countries around the world to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Taiwan currently requires travelers from dozens of countries where there have been outbreaks to undergo 14-day self-quarantine periods upon arrival, which has deterred overseas visitors.

(By CNA)

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