Travel agencies in Taiwan reported the strongest growth in the number of workers on official unpaid leave programs over the past week, as the number of furloughed workers continued to rise amid record numbers of local COVID-19 infections, the Department of Labor said yesterday.

Ministry data showed the number of furloughed workers in the support services sector, largely made up of travel agencies, was 8,677 on Saturday, up 272 from a report released Monday the week last.

The number of support services sector employers with furlough schemes also increased during the week, from 1,378 to 1,412, the data showed.

Photo: ANC

Nationwide, the number of workers on unpaid leave rose to 14,805, up 407 from the previous week, the ministry said, adding that the number of companies with unpaid leave programs in place leave also increased by 85 from the previous week to 2,355.

Deputy head of the Working Conditions and Equal Employment Division, Wang Chin-jung (王金蓉), said the increase in the number of furloughed workers in the support services industry was the main factor. behind the increase in the number of furloughed workers last week.

Most of the travel agencies that introduced furlough schemes in the past week were small and medium-sized businesses, Wang said.

The support services sector had the highest number of furloughed workers as well as the highest number of employers introducing unpaid leave programs.

The number of laid-off workers in manufacturing went against the tide from 1,357 to 1,259 after a machinery supplier ended its furlough scheme, removing about 200 workers from unpaid leave, said Wang.

However, the number of employers in the sector with furlough schemes in place increased from 104 to 109, the ministry said.

A semiconductor supplier also put about half of its 200 employees on unpaid leave last week due to a shortage of production equipment, she added.

The spike in nationally transmitted COVID-19 cases has raised concerns about its effect on hospitality and wholesale businesses, but these sectors have only seen an increase of around 40 and 50 workers on leave respectively during the week, Wang said.

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