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China Labor Laws: Out with the Old, In with the New

Knowing the labor laws of any country is essential for conducting business within the nation. China is no exception. Regardless of the perception, you might have about how business is done in China; the labor laws are often for the employee’s rights. China’s Labor laws have undergone remarkable transformations over the years. In 1995, there was the creation of employer/employee rights and obligations. In 2008, there were several changes made regarding collective bargaining rules. In February 2016, there was another new change made whereby international students will be allowed to work in China after they have graduated there.

Things you should know if you are planning to work in China after graduation

  • Should be 18 years and above and in perfect health
  • Should have beneficial professional skills to the Chinese industry
  • Should not have a criminal record
  •  Should have a clearly defined employer
  •  Should have a passport that is still valid or other relevant travel documents instead of a passport.Those who are not legible unless with permission
  • Foreigners without alien employment license- China must get special permission from the Ministry of Human Resource and Social Security in China
  •  Undergraduate or intern foreigners under the employment law guide 2015, would need the authorization to hold other jobs apart from the specified internship.
  • Families of people with foreigners employment permit- China must seek to obtain their separate work permits.

To be able to cooperate in China, the foreigners need to get an invitation from their employer who will help deal with most of the necessary permit hassle. Following China labor contract law, the company takes both the completed contract and other prerequisite travel documentation of the worker to the local labor administration. The work permit will be limited to the specific place the employee will be working. Both foreign and local Chinese workers enjoy the rights underpinned in the Chinese Labor law.
Below are 10 Chinese Labor Law facts you should know about.

1. No discrimination regardless of the gender, race or country of origin

2. The workers should be paid specifically in currency and they must be given their pay.

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3. There is a mutually binding labor contract between an employee and the employer. The Chinese Labor law is clear on what is expected from each party. For instance, an employee wouldn’t just leave a job without a 30-day notice neither can the employer just terminate the employment without a similar notice unless under mitigating circumstances. An example would be an employee being faced with an illness not related to work, and he/she can’t efficiently continue with work or the company runs bankrupt. This will force the employer to terminate the jobs of most of the employees to revive the company. This law can also be applied in so many other ways.

4. Under China Employment Law, The employment relationships start as soon as the employee begins work. Following the law, there must be a written contract that you enter into as soon as the working relationship is established. However, in some cases, the employment relationship is established before the written contract, and this will mean that both parties will have a month to work out an employment agreement.

If you fail to come up with the written contract within the one-month deadline, the employer must pay double the salary to the employee starting from the first day of the 2nd month. If you fail to come up with a contract after a year, then the employer pays to double the salary from the 2nd month of year one of employment, and they deem the contract a labor contract without fixed terms as you start your second year of employment.

5. The Chinese work week should not be more than 44 hours long, and the workers are entitled to at least one day off. During the Chinese holidays, the workers have offed. The only exception is maybe during an emergency or time of crisis such as a tsunami, and the workers are needed to help out. It is okay for the workers to work extra if the company’s workload is unusually extra but they are entitled to the extra hours pay.

6.The law sets down minimum employment terms and conditions which the employers must observe and should not violate them. There are specific minimum conditions for local wages- which are set by the local governments, holidays- between 5 to 15 days of vacation depending on the years of service, payment of social security premium, measures for the prevention of occupational risks and terms included in the employment contracts. It is clearly stated in the law that the probation period is between 0 and six months, use of dispatched employees (those employed by agencies) in 10% proportion of formal employees and the maximum limit for overtime work is 36 hours a month and 3 hours a day.

7. The minimum wage depends on the province with Shanghai at 2020Yuan per month being the highest and 850 Yuan the Lowest.

8. There are laws restricting the type of jobs that women should be given, and they are disqualified from heavy underground work or working in the air. There are also regulations on pregnancy, maternity leave, and menstrual cycle but ideally, women ought to be given equal opportunities and equal pay.

9. Women are entitled to a maternity leave totaling up to ninety-eight consecutive days. It starts 15 days to delivery with 15 more days in case of problematic birth and 15 more days for each child in cases of multiple births. In Shanghai and Beijing, the laws cater for miscarriages and women are entitled to 15 days off if it happened before four months into pregnancy or 42 days if it happened after four months into a pregnancy.

10.Part-time workers can be dismissed without compensation and at will, which is not acceptable when terminating full-time workers. Dispatched workers should granted equal pay for equal work even in the accepting unit.

Things any foreign worker should keep in mind.

  •  Get ready for the inspection of your work permit.
  • For any changes you make including changing the employer or extending your stay, you must seek permission from the relevant authorities.
  • Stay safe to avoid the legal system catching up with you. Avoid forging documents, buying or selling permits, or falsely using or creating documents because when the labor department’s catches up with you, your permits will be revoked, your illegal earnings confiscated and a fine of 10,000-15,000 Yuan imposed on you and if you commit a crime, you face remand.

It is a remarkable time for labor and employment in China with the new labor laws significantly changing the relationship between the employee and the employer and also this has brought China in line with international standards. The introduction of the labor contract is aimed at improving the job security of workers and making open-ended terms of employment for those who had completely fixed terms. It’s worth crediting China for the various milestones it has taken in the past few years to ensure that China remains one of the world’s greatest economies. The new China labor laws 2015, is just one bold and mature step in the right direction.

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