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What you should know about China Labor Law
Oct 23, 2016

The Chinese labor law has undergone multiple changes over the years. To get started with the China Labor Laws, the following are what you should know:

1. No discrimination is allowed, including country of origin, race or gender.

2. A labor contract between an employer and employee is mutually binding. An employee cannot leave a job without 30 days' prior notice, nor can an employer terminate employment relationship without notice unless there are mitigating circumstance. For instance, on the employee's side, it can be a non-work-related illness or injury that disabled oneself from continuing in the previous position. (Work related injuries or illnesses are treated differently.)  On the employer's side, if the company is going bankrupt, then the employer has the option to terminating the jobs of employees in order to revitalize the business. (Contact China Legal Express if you have any potential labor dispute risk)

3. The employment relationship begins when the employee starts to work. A written employment contract is required when such a relationship is established. In special occasions, if the employment relationship is established prior to the establishment of a written contract, then the parties have one month to sort out an employment agreement.If no written contract is signed by the "one-month" deadline, the employer has to pay double salary to the employee, counting from the first day of the second month. After a year without a written contract, the employer must pay double salary from the second month to the end of the first year of employment and the contract is also deemed to be a labor contract without fixed term from the first day of the second year.

4. The Chinese work week is to be no more than 44 hours long, and employees must have at least one day per week off. All workers have Chinese national holidays off. The exception to this is in times of crisis where workers might be needed to help out – during a tsunami, for example. Workers might also be asked to work extra if the company has an unusually large workload, but the company is expected to make suitable adjustments for those times.

5. There are some minimum employment terms and conditions set down by law that employers have to observe. Employers should not violate the minimum employment terms and conditions provided by laws and regulations.  More specifically, there are minimum conditions for local wages (set by local governments), holidays (5 to 15 days/year according to the service years), terms included in the employment contracts, payment of social security premiums and measures for the prevention of occupational risks.  Laws set a maximum limit for overtime work (3 hours/day and 36 hours/month), probation (0-6 months according to the term of employment contract) and use of dispatched employees (in proportion 10% of the formal employees).

6. Minimum wage in China varies from province to province, with Shanghai being the highest at 2020 Yuan per month (a Yuan is valued at .15 USD, or at .16 EU), and 850 Yuan being the lowest. However, living expenses in Shanghai are approximately half the cost of living in Chicago, Illinois, in the United States, for example.

7. Women are restricted from doing certain types of heavy work, including work that is underground or some types of work high up in the air, and there are regulations regarding menstrual cycles, pregnancy and maternity leave. Otherwise, they are to be given equal work and equal pay.

8. Maternity leave lasts for 98 consecutive days, and it may start 15 days before the delivery.  15 additional days are granted for difficult labour and 15 more days for each child in case of multiple births. Local regulations may stipulate for additional days off.  For example, Beijing and Shanghai provide for an extra 30 days of maternity leave for a late birth, i.e. after 24 years old. Female employees who have a miscarriage are entitled to 15 or 42 days of maternity leave according to whether the miscarriage happened before or after the first 4 months of their pregnancy respectively.

9. Part-time workers can be dismissed at will and without compensation, which is not allowed with the termination of full-time employees. Dispatched workers are entitled to equal pay for equal work even in the accepting unit.

Of special note for foreign workers:
You should always be prepared to allow your work permit to be inspected.
If you wish to change employer, extend your stay or change permission you must have permission from the proper authorities.
Foreigners and employers who forge documents, buy or sell permits, or in any way falsely use or create documents, the labor department will revoke permits, confiscate illegal earnings and impose a fine between 10,000 and 15,000 yuan. If a crime is involved, they will also be remanded to the appropriate legal authorities.

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