China Employment Law Questions: No Easy Answers

Our lawyers support both employees and employers on China employment law matters. As a result, we constantly receive emails from both employees and employers whose questions often involve employees who face termination or have disputes with their employers, or employers having a hard time understanding China’s employment laws.

We can rarely provide instantaneous answers to their questions and that is because of both the complexity of Chinese law at the national level and because there are seemingly endless legal twists and turns at the local level as well.

For example, someone last week asked about whether her employer was justified in terminating her with a couple months’ severance while she was still nursing. She wanted to know whether her employer was within its rights and what her options were.

Another asked about issues related to switching their employees from a 5-day work week to a 4-day week and the process for implementing this change.

An employee asked whether it was legal for his employer to retract the offer letter he had accepted. And sort of on the flip side, an employer asked whether it could withdraw its offer as the candidate could not come to work in the employer’s China office on the required start date due to a travel ban.

Though these sorts of emails may seem to pose straightforward questions, here is just a sampling of the information our China employment lawyers typically need before we can provide meaningful guidance:

  • We always need to know the identity of the parties involved to run a conflict check to make sure we can actually advise the potential client.
  • We almost always need to review all relevant documents, such as the employment contract and the employer’s rules and regulations.
  • We almost always need to gather up additional facts to assess the situation.
  • We usually want to research the applicable national and local laws.
  • We usually need to check in with the appropriate Chinese employment authorities to clarify local employment requirements.

As you can see, there is almost no such thing as a quick answer when it comes to China’s employment laws.

Whether you are an employee or employer in China, do your research before making an employment move and do not make the mistake of believing it will be easy.