China Part-Time Employee Contracts

Part-time employees have their own special issues in China and for that reason their employment contracts require special care. The following provisions are usually required in part-time employment contracts:

  • The working hours
  • The term/duration of the employment agreement
  • A description of the work the part-time employee will be performing
  • The part-time employee’s wages
  • Applicable labor protections and labor conditions

But as is true of so much regarding China employment law, the laws and the requirements for part-time employees tend to be very local. Nonetheless, there are a number of issues that regularly need resolution when drafting a part-time employee contract, including the folllowing:

1. Working hours: You should specify your part-time employee’s working hours in the employment contract and make sure the specified hours do not exceed the legal maximum. In most places in China, this means your part-time employee’s working time cannot exceed either 5 hours a day or 24 hours a week. Since it is possible for a part-time employee to incur overtime your company should have a written policy on how your employees (both part-time and full-time) should record and report their working hours. If you have nothing in writing on this, you are setting yourself up for disputes regarding overtime payment.

2. No probation period is allowed for part-time employees. We constantly see China employment contracts with illegal probation periods and/or a lack of clarity regarding the term of employment. These sorts of ambiguities increase both the likelihood of an employee-employer dispute and the likelihood of the employer losing such a dispute.

3. Wages: Many places in China (e.g., Beijing, Shenzhen) mandate a 15 day payment cycle for part-time employees, which differs from the rules for full-time employees who are usually paid monthly. These required payment cycles cannot be contracted away and employers are legally obligated to pay their employees in full and on time and late payments can subject employers to administrative fines and other regulatory and litigation risks. In addition, as with full-time employees, the salary you pay to your part-time employees must meet all national, provincial and local minimum wage requirements.

4. Social insurance contributions: Though most places in China do not require employers to make the full range of social insurance contributions for their part-time employees, we are unaware of a municipality that does not mandate at least one type of social insurance for part-time employees. This means you need to formally enroll your part-time employee in government required social insurance program, and paying them with cash to cover their own social insurance (no matter how generous you are) will not cut it and do not believe anyone who tells you otherwise on that, and plenty of people will.

5. Annual paid leave: It’s generally okay to not provide annual paid leave for part-time employees, but be careful because this is not true of all locales. You need though to make sure that your documents on this are consistent. For example, if your rules and regulations state that employees are entitled to annual paid leave and there is no clear language on what document will control, you will probably need to give such a paid leave even if your employment contracts provide otherwise. It would certainly not hurt you to go search out and then root out any inconsistencies in your employment documents.

6. Termination: Just as is true with full time employees, ignoring required formalities and procedures in handling employee terminations will be done at your peril.

Oh and one last thing, you want all of your employment contracts to be in both Chinese (the official language) and in English so all your personnel will be able to refer to them in making employee decisions.