In China employment law is as important as it is in any other country. Every society has laws that encourage business growth, the passage of employees and the smooth running of the economy.

There are laws related to employment such as: wage regulation, labor disputes, social insurance, negotiation procedures, safety in the workplace, contracts, compensation, hours, legal responsibilities, protection from discrimination and professional training.

In China, the employment laws have gone through some changes in the last few decades. This was to encourage growth and the long-term success of the country’s economy. As a result, people are flocking to China but every foreigner wanting to work here must understand the rules. Foreigners without permanent residence can work in the People’s Republic of China, but there are certain conditions.

In China employment law can seem complicated for foreigners, so we will give you some basic info about employment, visas and the paperwork you will need to do.

China Employment law

1. The following conditions must be meet by any foreigner seeking employment in China:

  • Over 18 and in good health
  • Possess the relevant job experience and professional skills
  • No criminal record
  • A clearly-defined employer in China
  • A valid passport or other international travel documents
  • Employee and employers must sign a letter of intention of employment or a labor contract

2. An employer who intends to hire a foreigner needs to apply for an employment license by submitting the following documents to the trade authorities:

  • The foreigner’s resume
  • Signed letter of intention or labor contract
  • A report stating the reasons for employment
  • The foreigner’s credentials that are needed for the job
  • Duplicate of the foreigner’s application form
  • An original and a photocopy of the foreigner’s medical report
  • A photocopy of the employer’s business license
  • A photocopy of the foreigner’s valid passport

3. The employer who has an employment license should apply for the letter of visa notification by submitting the following documents to the foreign affairs office:

  • Application cover letter
  • The original employment license
  • Photocopy of the foreigner’s valid passport
  • The original of the foreigner’s medical report

4. The foreigner who has permission to work in China should apply for a Z-type employment visa at the Chinese Embassy with the following documents:

  • Valid passport
  • Completed visa application form with an extra passport photo
  • Employment license issued by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security and a letter of visa notification issued by Chinese foreign affairs
  • Visa application form 2 which has the foreigner’s medical examination certificate

5. Once the foreigner has gained entry into China, the employee and the employer apply for an employment permit by submitting the following documents to the local Labor and Social Security Bureau. The China employment law specific that this must be done within 15 days.

  • Photocopy of the employer’s business license
  • A photocopy of the foreigner’s valid passport with the Z-visa on it
  • Two copies of the employment permit application form
  • Three copies of the foreign employment registration form
  • Three color photos of the foreigner
  • The original labor contract
  • The original of the foreigner’s medical report
  • Original employment license

6. Within 30 days of entering China, the foreigner who has been given an employment permit should apply for a residence certificate. The terms of the residence certificate will relate to the details on the employment permit.

7. The employment permit validity is granted on the basis of the labor contract duration which is usually between one and two years.

If you wish to apply for an extension, then this should be done in within one month. Applications made later than this are more complicated and costly. To apply for an extension the China employment law requires the foreigner and employer to submit the following documents to the Local Labor and Security Bureau:

  • Three copies of the application form for employment permit extension with the employer’s seal and photos
  • Photocopy of the employer’s business license
  • The foreigner’s valid passport and a photocopy
  • The original and a photocopy of the labor contract
  • The foreigner’s original residence certificate
  • An updated medical report for the foreigner
  • Working certification with the employer’s seal

8. Any employer or foreigner who violates these rules will have to deal with the public security bodies, under Article 44 of the Rules Governing the Implementation of the Law of the PRC on the Entry and Exit of Aliens

Any foreigner can have their work permit inspected by the labor administrative authorities. If you refuse, change your profession/employer or extend your term of employment without permission, your employment permit can be withdrawn. Plus your residence status can be cancelled by public security.

In extreme cases, in China employment law, deportation will result and all the expenses or costs will be paid by the employer or the foreigner.

Any foreigner or employer who tries to alter, forge, transfer, falsely use, sell or buy an employment license or employment permit, will have it confiscated by the labor administrative authorities and be fined between Y10,000 and Y100,000 (US$1,490 and US$149,000).

For the last decade, China employment law has come from a vague place to a more streamlined and structured position. There have been different changes to the employment law that make working in China more streamlined for both employers and foreigners. There is no longer any discrimination of foreigners.

China Employment law

As a foreigner, all you need to do is understand your rights and the employment laws in China that apply to you, and do not violate them as the laws and authorities are strict.

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