China’s Response to COVID-19

China is one of the most affected countries by the coronavirus due to the fact that the outbreak first took root there. Despite being the first and one of the hardest-hit countries, it has managed to establish an efficient system to battle the virus and ensure economic stability as much as possible. In this article, we discuss China’s COVID-19 employment law changes to protect employer and employee rights amidst the pandemic.

Stricter Layoff and Termination Laws
Even before COVID19, China had strict layoff and termination laws. To lay off twenty workers or more than 10% of the workforce at a time, companies had to justify their actions by showing financial and tax statements. There are also stipulations about who you can and cannot terminate. During the pandemic, employers in China cannot send a layoff or termination notice to even a single employee. They have to approach legal authorities with an application to justify the issuance of a termination letter. They must also either give a thirty-day notice or provide the employee one month’s salary before letting them go.Collection of

Employee Information
According to Chinese law, an employer has the right to access information about the employees that pertain to the employment contract alone. However, amid the coronavirus outbreak, the scope of the law has widened. Employers can now collect medical information about their employees in light of the pandemic as it can directly affect production.

Employers can collect:

  • Necessary information about the employee’s identity
  • Health information
  • Travel details

What employers cannot collect includes:

  • Information regarding religious beliefs
  • Financial and property information
  • Travel and visitation details that go beyond the scope of coronavirus outbreak and prevention

Policies Reducing the Burden on Employers and Employees
The Chinese government has announced various measures to protect employer and employee rights in the country. The State Council has also issued notices to focus on providing job stability. To ease the burden on employers and promote employee retention, the government has reduced the social insurance contribution as well as the housing fund contribution for employers. The government has also taken steps to reduce employers’ contribution to disabled persons’ funds, further reducing their financial burden.

The Chinese Ministry of Human resources and Social security has also introduced legislation governing electronic employment contracts. It has also reduced restrictions on foreign Human Resource Services and companies, urging them to retain employees even if it means reduced pay for the employees or reduced taxes for the government.

Different provinces are also issuing notices and passing legislation to cater to the ongoing economic turmoil. Shanghai, Anhui, Zhejiang, and Jiangsu have issued notices addressing controversial labor laws.
Guangzhou province has also issued specific guidelines for how to deal with emerging employment disputes.

Throughout the pandemic, the Chinese government has been incredibly proactive and has dealt with employment issues as they emerge, as evidenced by China’s COVID-19 employment law changes. The government’s main focus is to ensure job stability and keep unemployment levels in check by providing employers and employees with the necessary aid.

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