As promised in my post last week, China Employment Contract FAQs, I am back to write about the most commonly asked questions our China employment lawyers get about China employer rules and regulations, with short answers to each of them. The below are the questions we field most often when doing our China employer audits.
1. I have several separate company policies that deal with different topics such as overtime, employee leaves and discipline. Do they need to be in one document called employer rules and regulations?
Yes. You need a comprehensive employer rules and regulations document that includes all your employer policies/rules. First, this is what Chinese authorities like to see. Second, the fewer documents you have, the easier it will be for your management to enforce your company polices and for your employees to learn about and follow them. Third, by including all the policies in the same document, it will be easier to search out and eliminate any potential inconsistencies. Fourth, this makes it easier for you to keep everything updated. Lastly, having all employer policies and rules in one document and then getting each of your employees to sign a receipt proving they received it will give you added protection.
2. Do I need a different set of employer rules and regulations for each of my offices in China?
Yes. China’s employment laws are highly localized and its employment rules/practices usually differ by city and even by district within the same city. The differences between your various rules and regulations will depend on where your offices and your employees are based. For example, if you have an office in Beijing and an office in Shanghai, you will likely have a very different set of rules and regulations for these two cities. On the other hand, if all your offices are located in Guangdong Province, you likely will have quite similar employer rules and regulations among your offices.
3. I have been operating in China for a long time and I’ve never had a set of rules and regulations. Is it too late to start doing it now?
Absolutely not. Having a well-drafted set of employer rules and regulations will not solve past problems but it will certainly go a long way towards preventing future problems.
4. The rules and regulations seem negative in tone. Will my employees accept them?
Your rules and regulations need to be reasonable to be enforceable in China. But so long as they are reasonable and enforceable, and you implement them according to Chinese law, your employees must abide by them. One thing you as an employer must do is to get an acknowledgement of receipt signed by your employees proving they received a copy of your rules and regulations. Their signing that acknowledgment means they have agreed to follow your rules and regulations. It is true that a big part of the standard China employer rules and regulations relates to employee discipline and terminations, but a well-drafted set of these rules and regulations should also provide detailed explanations regarding employee rights and benefits, which will give your employees clarity and protections. Well-written employer rules and regulations are good for both employers and employees and virtually all your employees will recognize this and virtually all will be willing to sign off. See China Employee Rules and Regulations: Use Them as a Talent Magnet.
5. Can I use a template set of rules and regulations from the Internet?
Only if you do not care at all about preventing employee problems and costly employee litigation. Your rules and regulations should match your specific situation, your industry, your locale, and, most importantly, your specific issues, goals, and concerns. Every employer client for whom we have drafted rules and regulations has had their own unique programs/policies/rules and the job of our China employment lawyers is to work with them to determine whether what they want is workable and legal for their specific situation and locale.