Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan passed a bill amendment on Monday (31 July) to the Sexual Harassment Act, which aims at better protecting the rights of victims when they encounter signs of sexual harassment in the workplace. 

This bill amendment was regarded as a quick response to the #Metoo wave which swept Taiwan since June, with victims rising to accuse a wide range of public figures of sexual misconducts.  

Currently Taiwan has three laws governing sexual harassment: one for the workplace, one for the educational sector, and one covers circumstances outside these two spheres in life. The revisions came after the acts related to educational sector were debated last Friday.  

Under the amended workplace law, a new definition of term was added, which was  “sexual harassment with an abuse of power”. It refers to people of higher position or authority, who commit sexual misconduct based on the abuse of power or any opportunistic behaviors, during the period of employment, job-seeking, or job performance supervision.  

When the harasser is found liable for sexual harassment with “an abuse of power”, the court may impose punitive damages ranging from 1 to 3 times the compensatory damages depending on the severity of the infringement.

If the harasser is a top executive or employer, the victim may request punitive damages ranging from 3 to 5 times the compensatory damages.  

The amended law also stipulates that when a person in the position of authority, are investigated on charges of serious sexual misconducts, the company must place them on leave or rotate them in another role.  

Once the charges are proven true and reach a certain level of severity, the company is required to terminate the offender's work contract within 30 days of concluding the investigation.  

According to the amended law, companies that are aware of sexual harassment complaints but neglect to take appropriate actions may be subjected to fines ranging from NT$20,000 to NT$1 million. In cases where the owner of company found guilty of harassment, they can be fined by local labor authorities with penalties ranging from NT$10,000 to NT$1 million.  

After the passage of the amendment, Kuomintang legislator You Yu-lan pointed out that the Ministry of Labor, as the responsible institution for the amendments, is in lack of sensitivity or experience in law enforcement.  

She urged the Ministry of Labor to actively learn from the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Ministry of Education, to promote gender equality in the public scene.  

On the other hand, Democratic Progressive Party legislator Wu Yu-qin stated that the amendment clearly stipulates that the central government should assist local financial needs of the Ministry of Labor, after full implementation of the new law after 8 March, in 2024.

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TNL Editor: Kim Chan (@thenewslensintl)

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