Cabinet policy to boost birth rate
By ECCT staff writers
The cabinet has approved a policy plan on prenatal care, infertility treatment and parental leave as part of its efforts to tackle Taiwan’s low fertility rate.
According to a report in CNA, the policy proposal calls for a budget of NT$9.1 billion which would be used to cover the costs of an increase in the number of prenatal check-ups covered under the national health insurance (NHI) programme, and expand the number of free prenatal check-ups. Funding for prenatal diagnostic testing and checking will also be raised to enhance the quality of prenatal care in order to reduce complications during pregnancy and labour, and the mortality rates among pregnant women and new-borns.
The plan will also expand NHI coverage for infertility treatment. Currently, only married couples from low-to-middle income households are granted subsidies for such treatment but under the new policy, couples other than those from that category will be able to apply for a subsidy of up to NT$100,000 for a first infertility treatment and NT$60,000 for the following applications.
The eligibility requirements for receiving the subsidy are that at least one person in a married couple is a Taiwanese national and that the wife is no older than 45.
According to the report, the new plan would also raise parental leave allowance to 80% of the insured person's average monthly salary for the first six months after a child's birth, up from the current 60% paid through their employment insurance.
The additional 20% would be subsidized by the government and the entire allowance would be payable for up to six months.
The cabinet has also agreed to amend related regulations and laws to have businesses establish more flexible working hours and allow parents to apply for unpaid leave simultaneously to raise their children.
All of the measures will take effect on 1 July, except for the ones involving raising the number of days of paid leave for prenatal check-ups and allowing parents to take unpaid leave simultaneously, which require actual law amendments, according to the report.
The Ministry of Labour is scheduled to formally submit the related law amendments within a month to the legislature, which would then be subject to review and need to be passed by the legislature to become law.