A growing number of new parents in Taiwan are taking time off from work to personally care for their children during those precious early years. Taiwanese law is permissive of this trend: since 2002, it has stipulated that employees can apply for up to two years of parental leave before their child turns three years old.

This legislation has now been in place for over 15 years, but how many parents are taking advantage of it? We decided to find out.

When considering the numerous revisions to the law over the past 15 years, we can see that the legal restrictions on applications have been gradually relaxed. The law was amended to include employees at smaller businesses in 2008, and to reduce the minimum time of employment required before applying in 2014.

2002 ►The Act of Gender Equality in Employment (formerly called (Two Genders' Equal Employment Law was officially implemented. Article 16 stipulated that a worker who has served for one year in a company with more than 30 employees may apply for a two-year unpaid parental leave any time before the child reaches the age of three.
2002 ►The “Regulations for Implementing Unpaid Parental Leave for Raising Children” were officially released.
2008 ►Removal of the provision stating that an applicant must work for a company with over 30 employees.
2009 ►The “Employment Insurance Act” increased the payment of the parental leave allowance (Article 19-2). Parental Leave allowance increased to 60% of their average monthly salary for a six month period.
2014 ►Reduction of minimum employment limit from one year to six months.

As these amendments have further liberalized parental leave, the number of people applying for leave has also increased. The graph below shows the monthly change in the amount of people who applied for parental leave allowance for the first time:


We can see that between 2009 and 2012, the average number of new applicants fluctuated between 2,000 and 4,000. Between 2012 and the first half of 2015, the average monthly number hovered between 4,000 and 8,000.

From the second half of 2015 until June 2018, new applicant numbers started to follow an obvious trend. In most months, the number averaged around 6,000-8,000, with that number exceeding 10,000 each March and falling below 6,000 around January or February.

Among those taking parental leave, the majority are still the mothers. As can been seen in the chart below, the number of new woman applicants increased year after year. By June 2018, woman applicants made up 80 percent of total applications, accounting for 5,756 out of 7,084.


Although men take far less parental leave than women, the number of male applicants each month has crept up steadily since 2009, showing similar spikes around March of each year.

The graph above shows that the total number of parents applying for parental leave was higher after 2015 – most likely due to the relaxation of the minimum employment time limit.

Taiwan's declining birthrate becomes obvious when we look at the numbers. In the chart below, we can see that the number of newborns each month has decreased significantly since 2015. However, the number of people applying for parental leave allowance during that period remained within the expected range and did not fall. This means there were a relatively higher proportion of parents who were raising their children without applying for financial help from the government.


However, a couple’s willingness to take parental leave is still influenced by their actual income. In the 2016 Survey on Parental Leave for Raising Children, it was reported that the lengths of parental leave taken by new parents were usually six months (60.2 percent), followed by three to six months (12.4 percent). This means that 70 percent of the new parents were only taking parental leave for periods during which they received an allowance.


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This article originally appeared on the Chinese-language Taiwan edition of The News Lens. The original can be found here.

Translator: Zeke Li

Editor: Nick Aspinwall (@Nick1Aspinwall)

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