Under current law in Taiwan, employers may request to hold a foreign employee’s passport, but a proposed amendment to the “Employment Service Act” (就業服務法) would hinder employers’ ability to do so, UDN reported.
The proposed amendment from the Ministry of Labor would prevent employers from holding foreign workers’ passports or other identification documents without a justifiable reason to do so.
Employers tend to make the request for foreign employees to hand over their passport to ensure that the employees don’t flee. The workers are asked to sign an agreement to allow their employers to hold the passports, and many sign the agreements out of fear that the job offer would be rescinded.
Workforce Development Agency section chief Hsueh Chien-chung (薛鑑忠) noted in a phone interview with UDN that the amendment would clearly state that employers could not request to hold a foreign employer’s passport without a legitimate reason. Hsueh said that employers only do this now because they worry the foreign workers will flee. Such acts by an employer violate the rights of the workers, which is why the ministry is seeking to amend the law.
The proposed amendment would stipulate that “No proof of identity, work certificate or other supporting documents of the job applicant or employee, or personal information required for employment may be held by the employer. But there are reasons for temporarily holding such documents.”
The article, however, does not mention what such reasons might be for temporarily holding a passport or other personal documents.
Even if an employee consents to the employer holding his/her passport, it would still be a violation of the law. The employer would then lose its qualification to hire foreign workers and face a fine of NT$60,000 (US$1990) to NT$300,000.
Hsueh added that if foreign employees encounter sexual harassment or abuse, the offending employer would face a fine of NT$300,000 to NT$1.5 million, as well as the termination of the qualification to hire foreign workers. Employers responsible for such act would be able to reapply for the qualification after two to five years, but repeat offenders would be banned entirely.