Taipei, Sept. 13 (CNA) Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are still banned from working shifts late at night or in the early morning hours, even though women who don’t fall into these categories are now allowed to do so without restrictions, the Ministry of Labor (MOL) clarified Monday.

The MOL issued the clarification to local governments as there was some confusion on the matter after Taiwan’s Constitutional Court invalidated a portion of Taiwan’s Labor Standards Act pertaining to women working at night.

Article 49 of the act originally stated that female workers were prohibited from working between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., though exceptions were available if three requirements were met.

These requirements were: the consent of a labor union or a labor-management conference; the employer must provide necessary health and safety facilities and, when no public transportation options are available, transportation or dormitories for female workers.

The Constitutional Court decided to void this portion of Article 49 on Aug. 20, citing Article 7 of the Constitution, which states that all citizens, irrespective of sex, religion, race, class, or party affiliation, shall be equal before the law.

Other portions of Article 49 remain in effect, however, the MOL stressed Monday, including that female workers cannot be forced to work between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. if they have health concerns or other justifiable reasons.

Employers who violate this rule can be sentenced to a maximum of six months in prison or fined up to NT$300,000 (US$10,723).

Another portion of Article 49, which states that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are banned from working 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., also continues to be valid, as Taiwan’s constitution states that the country should protect motherhood, the MOL said.

Employers who violate this rule are subject to fines of NT$90,000 to NT$450,000, and the names of the business and its owners will be made public. Failure to make improvements will result in repeat fines.

(By Chang Hsiung-feng and Chiang Yi-ching)

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