Taipei City Hall Grants Employees Family Care Leave for Same-sex Couples

Taipei City Hall Grants Employees Family Care Leave for Same-sex Couples
Photo Credit: Reuters/達志影像

What you need to know

After allowing people to register as same-sex couples last year, Taipei City Hall takes another step forward granting family care leave for employees working in the government.

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Being gradually accepted by the Taiwanese citizens, LGBT rights have again take a step forward recently. After granting registration for same-sex couples in June 2015, the Taipei City Hall has approved family care leave for city government employees who have registered as same-sex couples.

►Related News: Taipei City Joint Wedding Opens Up to Same-sex Couples 

In 2014, the US Labor Department already issued a proposed rule stating that any employee is eligible for leave to care for a same-sex spouse under the Family and Medical Leave Act regardless of whether they live in a state that recognizes their marital status.

According to the “Act of Gender Equality in Employment," employees can take a family care leave when their “family members" need to be taken care of. Serious illness or other major accidents are all taken into consideration. Although they wouldn’t be paid during the absence, the employer cannot reduce their attendance bonus or refuse to approve the leave. The Office for Gender Equality of Taipei City also says that a person can take a maximum of seven days leave annually. Also, calculated as personal leave, there is no salary deduction for leaves within five days and doesn’t affect the performance evaluation results.

Based on the administrative interpretation launched by the Ministry of Labor last year, the definition of so-called “family members" refers to families or those who regarded as families according to Article 1123 in the Civil Law. But to take care of their same-sex partner, an employee would face obstacles due to lack of legal recognition for their marital status. Additionally, an employee may also refuse to admit their sexual orientation in the workplace and, therefore, ask for a personal leave instead.

The Office for Gender Equality also states that they received instruction given by the Ministry of Civil Service after sending a request. They are also allowing family care leave for employees in the Taipei City Hall who have already registered as same-sex couples. Since January 14, civil servants, contract employees and Taipei City Government employees benefit from this new right.

Xu Li-min, director of the Department of Social Welfare, says that other than family members, relatives and friends can also enjoy rights in the name of “close relationship." However, due to difficulty in defining the specific scope for “close relationship," there are several obstacles to enforcing the right. As for urging hospitals to approve rights of signing and visiting for registered couples, they will discuss with the Department of Health for including evaluation as a method.

Currently, Kaohsiung and Taichung City also grant same-sex couple registration. Zhuo Guan-ting, director of the Information Bureau of Taichung City Government, says that they will decide whether to follow up the move after learning more about the policy.

Translated by Yuan-ling Liang
Edited by Olivia Yang

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