Families with multiple children should have an easier time hiring a foreigner as a domestic helper after a needs-based point system used to determine eligibility is reviewed, the Ministry of Labor said on Monday.

The ministry’s move — an attempt to encourage people to have more children and increase the nation’s low birth rate — comes after Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Ying (陳瑩) urged at a legislative hearing that the point system be reviewed.

Testifying at the hearing was a mother of five who is expecting a baby in January.

The mother said she adores babies, but is burned out from taking care of so many children.

As her children get older, she receives fewer points under the system and has become less eligible to hire a foreign domestic helper, which has forced her to turn to the government for help, she said.

Taiwan in 2001 introduced the needs-based point system, under which applicants must score 16 points or higher to be eligible to hire a foreign domestic helper.

To reach 16 points on the evaluation scale, families must have three or more children aged three or younger, or have lineal relatives aged six years or younger, or 75 or older.

The nation’s low birth rate has become a national security issue, Chen said, adding that the government is developing a policy that includes creating an ideal environment for raising children and making more resources available to reduce the burden of child-rearing on parents, Chen said.

In Taiwan, 4,680 families have four children, Chen said, citing statistics from last year.

The government should review the needs-based point system to allow more people to be able to hire foreign domestic helpers, Chen added.

Applications for hiring foreign domestic helpers are subject to strict review, Workforce Development Agency Director-General Huang Chiu-kuei (黃秋桂) told the lawmakers.

The ministry plans to study the feasibility of using a weighted system to calculate the points assessed to families with three or more children, Huang said.