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Fines & Deposits
By Alden Su, Licensed Taiwan Labor Attorney
When you quit working for your foreign language dwan chee bushiban if the school takes part of your wages or tries to collect a deposit against you, there are three routes open for you to have your losses returned by the school. Today we will focus on one: a Council of Labor Affairs Arbitration Hearing, a readily available, cost-free, efficient means to resolve issues of illegitimate wage garnishing.
Before getting to the Arbitration hearing, it's important to note the two other options: a school-to-teach
Contracts between employers and employees in Taiwan are governed by the Labor Standards Act. By order of the Council of Labor Affairs, Executive Yuan; in the Labor Standards Act, Article 3; from 1998 contracts between Foreign Teachers and dwan chee bushibans are also governed by the Labor Standards Act. Therefore, such contracts cannot violate the provisions of the Labor Standards Act.
Article 26 of the Labor Standards Act states that:
An employer shall not make any advance deduction of wages as punitive damages or indemnity.
Any dwan chee bushiban that makes deductions against earned wages when you quit your job or tries to collect any deposit for quitting is in obvious violation of the act. Doing so not only opens the school up to a fine of up to NT$90,000 under Article 78 of the Labor Standards Act,
An employer who violates the provisions of Article 13, Article 17, Article 26, Article 50, Article 51 or paragraph one of Article 55 shall be fined a sum not exceeding 30,000 yuan (30,00 yuan = NT$90,000).
it has been my experience that they also open themselves up to criminal prosecution.
For teachers who have had their wages taken or deposits charged against them remedies are easily accessible. In most cases teachers can go to the Council of Labor Affairs and request a Arbitration hearing. There is no cost to the teacher to request the hearing, and no cost to have it held. The decisions are binding and have the force of law. I have not only acted as counsel in such cases, but also am frequently called upon to be a judge. It is rare, if not unheard of for an employer to ignore a Council of Labor Affairs summons to an Arbitration hearing.
The Council of Labor Affairs is publicly committed to starting the Arbitration process within a month of requests. In my experience 3 weeks is more common. A lawyer is not required. Teachers could choose a businessman, a parent or anyone they like to help them explain their case. Once each party has chosen the representative they want with them, a judge for the case is named, often an attorney specializing in labor law. The hearing can award you your entire damages. If the withheld wages are not paid by the agreed upon date, the Council of Labor Affairs transfers the judgment to the civil court, who will move to seize the bank accounts of the employer or put liens on their property.
Holding a visitor's visa, or having an ARC with another school, you would still be allowed to enter an Arbitration hearing with your former school. The laws governing these areas do not interfere with those ensuring the security of one's wages.
Wage abuse cases in the bushiban industry are common. The Labor Affairs Department takes a particularly dim view of such practices, and Arbitration Hearings are a readily available and cost-free venue for employees seeking justice. In my experience with Arbitration Hearings of this type, 80-90% of the time the employee wins. I hope my explanation of the options available to English teachers has been helpful.
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