Understanding Labor and Employment Law in China

Understanding Labor and Employment Law in China

Continued economic prosperity in China and its international competitive advantage have been due in large part to the labor of workers in China, who for many years toiled in under-regulated workplaces. Now, there are new labor law reforms raising the rights and standards of workers throughout China. These new laws have been praised for their progressive measures and at the same time blamed for placing too many economic burdens on companies, especially those operating on the margins and those that have caused business failures. This, combined with the recent global downturn and the millions of displaced and unemployed Chinese migrant laborers, has created ongoing debate about the new labor laws. Meanwhile the Chinese Union has organized Wal-Mart and many of the Global Fortune 500 companies and a form of collective bargaining is occurring. Workers are pursuing their legal labor rights in increasing numbers. This book provides a clear overview of the current labor and employment law environment in China and its legal requirements, as well as current practices under these laws used to deal with growing labor issues. Never has there been a time when understanding China’s labor and employment laws is more important.


"As a Chinese labor lawyer, it is a great pleasure for me to comment on Professor Brown’s book. He is one of the few American legal scholars who has deep understanding of the Chinese law and practice. This book contains a current and comprehensive examination of all major areas of the Chinese labor and employment law, as well as recent national legislation. Authoritative, timely, and complete, this book makes a significant contribution to Chinese legal research and provides useful guidelines for practitioners."
Jiang Junlu, Partner, King and Wood Law Firm, Beijing; Chair, Labor Committee of the All China Lawyer’s Association and Vice President, Beijing Lawyer’s Association

"Professor Brown’s book is a timely introduction to the newest developments in Chinese labor and employment law. The book examines and analyzes all the most important topics. The author is respected for his research on Chinese labor and employment law and is well informed on labor law developments in China. The book is clearly organized so that readers can easily access and understand Chinese labor and employment law issues. For those who want to learn more about up-to-date labor and employment law in China, this book is the best guide."
Zhou Changzheng, Associate Professor, Nanjing University Law School

"Professor Ron Brown succeeds at attaining an often elusive goal for writers on legal topics - fashioning a lucid, detailed and coherent 'treatise' on an emerging body of law - in this case, Chinese labor and employment law. Professor Brown has authored a comprehensive review of China’s first attempts to create a workable law of industrial relations suitable for its new private sector. His book covers this historic project comprehensively: nailing down the rapidly expanding technical terrain of what can be a very dry, mundane topic - employment regulation - and also conveying the vast social and political drama unfolding behind the "curtain" of this minute set of rules and procedures. China is resurrecting industrial relations and labor law, and Brown has written the definitive general treatise that will prove most useful to wide audiences of scholars and practitioners in this first phase of articulated private sector labor law in China."
Earl Brown, Asia Regional Labor Law Counsel, American Center for International Labor Solidarity, Solidarity Center, AFLCIO

"Ronald Brown's new book on China's labor and employment laws is the indispensable source for practitioners and researchers seeking a smart, intelligible guide to the welter of laws, regulations and practices that confront multinational businesses opening and maintaining operations in this most important of emerging markets for production and trade."
Samuel Estreicher, Dwight D. Opperman Professor of Law and Director, Center for Labor and Employment Law, New York University

"US companies operating in China face a steady and overwhelming stream of national, provincial and sector laws and regulations addressing labor and employment issues. Ron Brown's work permits such companies to understand why the stream exists and helps navigate around the legal and practical shoals. Written in a direct and readable style, Professor Brown allows the Western corporate reader to understand the diversity and complexity of the Chinese political, economic and cultural systems to better appreciate the difficulties Chinese regulators face in enacting and enforcing labor and employment laws that work well for all of China's workers. He lucidly captures the convergence of China's staggering industrial growth, its stated goals of advancing worker rights and protection, and need to ensure workplace and social harmony and Chinese lawmakers' attempts to balance these forces through laws and regulations. This book can help western companies operating in China choose "compliance" instead of the alternative choices of "bankruptcy" or "evasion" when faced with ever increasing labor and employment laws and regulations."
Mark Nordstrom, Sr Labor and Employment Law Counsel, General Electric Corporation

"[This] book provides interesting insights into the global quantity of high-skilled workers and their geographical distribution."
Coralie Guedes, Transfer

"In Understanding Labor and Employment Law in China, Professor Ronald C. Brown provides a comprehensive analysis of the laws and regulations concerning labor and employment issues in the Chinese context. This timely volume, published after the recent financial crisis, addresses the most pressing challenges, and particularly, the complexity and variability of the legal system concerning labor and employment … Therefore, the book is valuable not only for academic research, but also for readers who seek general knowledge on the subject, such as company directors, human resource managers, or human rights advocates."
Jing Bian, Journal of Chinese Political Science

Average Salary Increase of Urban Workers Rises to Six-Year High, Xinhua News Agency, April 2, 2008
Beijing City Hikes Minimum Wage as Inflation Soars, The China Post, June 29, 2008
Challenge”: Enforcement of Noncompete and Trade Secret Agreements for Employees Working in China, 44 Am. Bus. L. J. 603 (2007)
Humanpool Sources Blue-Collar Workers for Companies in the Yangtze River Delta, China Business Weekly, June 4–10, 2007
Lao zong yuan gong shou ru cha ju zui da chao wu shi bei [Managers Earns Fifty Times More], Guangzhou Daily, (Apr. 25, 2004), A2
Minimum Wage Rates are Proposed by Local Governments after Tripartite Consultation for Approval by the State Council. OECD Employment Outlook 38 (2007)
See also Labor Activists Detect Change and China Repression, Reuters NEWS, Jan. 13, 2005
Trade Unions and Multinational Companies in China, China Law & Practice (Sept. 2008)
Wage/Unemployment Standards in Selected Provinces/Municipalities/Cities, China Labor Watch (Aug 2007)
Aaron Halegua, Getting Paid: Processing the Labor Disputes of China's Migrant Workers, 26 Berkeley J. Int'l L. 254 (2008)
Anita Chan, A Race to the Bottom, 46 China Perspectives 41, 42 (2003)
Anthony Kuhn, A High Price to Pay for a Job, Far E. Econ. Rev., Jan. 22, 2004, at 30–32
Bai Tianliang, Discrimination Exists in Hiring Process; Equality to Be Achieved through Law, Peoples' Daily, Feb 11, 2003, at E1
Benjamin L. Liebman, Innovation through Intimidation: An Empirical Account of Defamation Litigation in China, 47 Hard. Int'l Law J. 33 (2006)
Bjorn Gustafsson & Li Shi, The Anatomy of Rising Earnings Inequality in Urban China, 29 J. Comp. Econ. 118 (2001)
Brandon Kirk, Putting China's Labor Contract Law into Practice, China Law & Practice 15–18 (March 2008)
Cao Desheng, Diseases at Work Haunt Migrant Workers, China Daily, Feb. 17, 2006
Cao Lin, See the Cost of Discrimination against HBV Carriers from the Zhou Yichao Murder Case, China News Wk., Sep. 15, 2003, at 8
Chen Feng, Legal Mobilization by Trade Unions, 52 China J. 27–45 (July 2004)
Christine M. Bulger, Note, Fighting Gender Discrimination in the Chinese Workplace, 20 B.C. Third World L.J. 345, 358 (2000)
Cliff Waldman, The Labor Market in Post-Reform China: History, Evidence, and Implications, 39 Bus. Econ. 50, 54–6 (2004)
Dali L. Yang, China's Looming Labor Shortage, 168 Far E. Econ. Rev. 19, 20 (2005)
David Lague, The Human Tide Sweeps into Cities, 166 Far E. Econ. Rev. 24, 25 (2003)
David Murphy, The Dangers of Too Much Success, 167 Far E. Econ. Rev. 28–29 (2004)
David Murphy, The Dangers of Too Much Success, Far Eastern Economic Review, June 10, 2004, at 29
Duan Kun, Time for Zero Tolerance of Workplace Accidents, CHINA DAILY, May 25, 2007
Edward Lehman, Does China's New Labor Contract Law Better Protect Intellectual Property Owners? 4 China L. Reptr. 4 (2008)
Fiona Tam, Caseloads Surge as Laborers Air Gripes, South China Morning Post (July 9, 2008)
Fiona Tam, Shenzhen Strike Strands Thousands, South China Morning Post, August 30, 2008, p. 7
Fu Jing, Huge Sum to Be Put Into Social Security, China Daily, Sep. 18, 2004
Garrett D. Brown & Dara O'Rourke, The Race to China and Implications for Global Labor Standards, 9 Int. J. Occup. Environ. Health 300 (2003)
Garrett D. Brown, China's Factory Floors: An Industrial Hygienist's View, 9 Int. J. Occup. Environ. Health 326, 328 (2003)
Gu Weixia, Recourse against Arbitral Awards: How Far Can A Court Go? Supportive and Supervisory Role of Hong Kong Courts as Lessons to Mainland China Arbitration, 4(2) Chinese J. Int. L. 481 (2005)
Guan Xiaofeng, Workers to Get Power to Negotiate, Union Says, China Daily, May 25, 2007
Harry Arthurs, Reinventing Labor Law for the Global Economy, 22 Berkeley J. Emp. & Lab. L. 271, 294 n.46 (2001)
Hu Yinan, Fewer Accidents and Deaths but Work Safety Still a Worry, China Daily, Dec. 24, 2007
Huang Zhiling, Women Win Sexual Discrimination Case, China Daily, June 20, 2005, at 3
Ingrid Nielsen, Russell Smyth, & Mingqiong Zhang, Unemployment within China's Floating Population: Empirical Evidence from Jiangsu Survey Data, 39 Chinese Econ. 41–56 (2006)
Isabelle Thireau & Linshan Hua, The Moral Universe of Aggrieved Chinese Workers: Workers' Appeals to Arbitration Committees and Letters and Visits Offices, 50 The China J. 83, 84 (2003)
Jaeyoun Won, Withering Away of the Iron Rice Bowl? The Reemployment Project of Post-Socialist China, 39 Stud. in Comp. Int'l Dev. 71, 71 (2004)
Jeffery Wilson, Newly Merged Employment Ministry Announces 3-Year Agenda for Labor Rule Revisions, Int. Labor & Employment L. Comm. Newsletter (May 2008)
John Balzano, Criminal Liability for Labor Safety Violations in the People's Republic of China, 3 Wash. U. Global Stud. L. Rev. 503 (2004)
John Knight & Linda Yueh, Job Mobility of Residents and Migrants in Urban China, 32(4) J. Comp. Econ. 637, 642 (2004)
Jonathan P. Hiatt & Deborah Greenfield, The Importance of Core Labor Rights in World Development, 26 Mich. J. Int'l L. 39, 40 (2004)
Jonathan Rauch, Short Guys Finish Last, Economist, Dec. 23, 1995, at 19
Joseph Kahn, Chinese People's Republic Is Unfair to Its Short People, N. Y. Times, May 21, 2004, at A13
Li Fengchao, More Time Needed to Improve Work Safety, China Daily, Dec. 22, 2006
Li Jiangang, PRC Law on Mediation and Arbitration of Labor Disputes: Further Improvement in Handling Labor Issues in China, China Law & Practice 31 (May 2008)
Liang Chao, Law Drafted to Fight Hep B Discrimination, China Daily, Aug. 11, 2004
Liang Qiwen, Minimum Wage Hike Planned to Plug Labor Shortage, China Daily, June, 21, 2008
Lily Wei Zhou, Labor Union Leader's Wrongful Employment Termination Case, China Law & Practice (May 2007)
Lily Wei Zhou, Labor Union Leader's Wrongful Employment Termination Case, China Law & Practice (May 2007)
Liu Baijia, Former Yahoo! China Boss Sues for Defamation, China Daily (Aug. 18, 2006)
Liu Li & Wu Chong, Nation to Create More Jobs for Disabled, China Daily, May 16, 2005, at 2
Lu Shihua, Employee Handbook Challenges Labor Law, China Labor and Social Security News (March 6, 2004)
Marisa Anne Pagnattaro and Ellen R. Pierce, Between a Rock and a Hard Place: The Conflict between U.S. Corporate Codes of Conduct and European Privacy and Work Laws, 28 Berkeley J. Emp. & Lab. L. 375 (2007)
Marisa Anne Pagnattaro, “The Google Challenge”: Enforcement of Noncompete and Trade Secret Agreements for Employees Working in China, 44 Am. Bus. J. 603 (2007)
Marisa Pagnattaro, Protecting Trade Secrets in China: Update on Employee Disclosures and the Limitations of the Law, 45 Am. Bus. L. J. 399 (2008)
Martin Fackler, Standing Up for Workers' Rights in Japan, N.Y. TIMES, June 11, 2008
Michael C. Dorf, What a Chinese Height Discrimination Case Says about Chinese and American Constitutional Law, Findlaw, May 26, 2004
Osman Chuah, Muslims in China: The Social and Economic Situation of the Hui Chinese, 24 J. Muslim Minority Aff. 155 (Apr. 2004)
Pun Ngai, Women Workers and Precarious Employment in Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, China, 12 Gender & Dev. 29, 30 (July 2004)
Randall Peerenboom, Globalization, Path Dependency and the Limits of Law: Administrative Law Reform and Rule of Law in the People's Republic of China, 19 Berkeley J. Int'l L. 161, 208 (2001)
Robert J. Liubicic, Corporate Codes of Conduct and Product Labeling Schemes: The Limits and Possibilities of Promoting International Labor Rights through Private Initiatives, 30 Law & Pol'y Int'l Bus. 111, 125, 128 (1998)
Robert Taylor, China's Human Resource Management Strategies: The Role of Enterprise and Government, 4 Asian Bus. & Mgmt. 5, 11–18 (2005)
Ronald Brown, China Labor Dispute Resolution, Foundation for Law, Justice and Society, at 2 (2008)
Ronald C. Brown, China's Collective Contract Provisions: Can Collective Negotiations Embody Collective Bargaining? 16 Duke J. Comp. & Int'l Law 35 (2006)
Ronald C. Brown, China's Employment Discrimination Laws during Economic Transition, 19 Colum. J. Asian L. 361, 399 (2006)
Ronald C. Brown, China's Employment Discrimination Laws during Economic Transition, 19 Colum. J. Asian L. 361, 409–11, 423–4 (2006)
Ronald C. Brown, China's Employment Discrimination Laws during Economic Transition, 19 Colum. J. Asian L. 361, 423–4 (2006)
Ronald C. Brown, China's New Labor Contract Law, 3 China Law Reporter 4 (2007)
Sean Cooney, Making Chinese Labor Law Work: The Prospects for Regulatory Innovation in the People's Republic of China, 30 Fordham Int'l L. J. 1050 (2007)
Shao Xiaoyi, Negotiated Salary System Saves Industry, China Daily, Feb. 24, 2005
Shi Ting, Acceptance of Rights Replacing Reflex Fear of Protests, S. China Morning Post, July 7, 2005, at 1
Simon Clarke, Chang-Hee Lee and Qi Li, Collective Consultation and Industrial Relations in China, British J. Industrial Relations 241 (June 2004)
Stephen Frost, Rules and Regulations in Chinese Factories, 9 J. Occupational & Environmental Health 317–318 (2003)
Su Z, Wang S., & Levine S.P., Occupational Health Hazards Facing China's Workers and Possible Remedies, 37 World Bank Transition Newsletter 37 (2002)
Tania Branigan, Chinese Man Jailed in First Sexual Harassment Case under New Law, The Guardian, July 17, 2008
Tim E. Pringle & Stephen D. Frost, The Absence of Rigor and the Failure of Implementation: Occupational Health and Safety in China, 9 Int. J. Occup. Environ. Health 309, 313 (2003)
Victor Nee & Yang Cao, Market Transition and the Firm: Institutional Change and Income Inequality in Urban China, 1 Mgmt. & Org. Rev. 23 (2005)
Vivian Wu, University Fires Fibbing Professor, South China Morning Post (March 28, 2006)
Wang Ying, Women to Get Protection from Harassment, China Daily, Mar. 5, 2005
Wing-yue & Trini Leung, What Can be Done for the Largest but Deadliest Manufacturing Center in the World, China Labor Bulletin, November 2, 2002
Xiao-Yuan Dong et al., Gender Segmentation at Work in China's Privatized Rural Industry: Some Evidence from Shandong and Jiangsu, 32 World Dev. 979, (2004)
Xiaorong Wang & David C. Christiani, Occupational Lung Disease in China, 9 Int. J. Occup. Environ. Health 320 (2003)
Xing Gao & Li Sun, Current Status of the Occupational Health and Safety Countermeasures in Beijing, China, 42 Industrial Health 116, 118 (2004)
Youxin Liang, Quanyong Xiang, Occupational Health Services in PR China, 198 Toxicology 45, 49 (2004)
Yuchao Zhu, Workers, Unions and the State: Migrant Workers in China's Labour-Intensive Foreign Enterprises, 35 Dev. & Change 1011 (Nov. 2004)
Yunqiu Zhang, Law and Labor in Post-Mao China, 14(04) Journal of Contemporary China, 525, 530 (Aug. 2005)
Zhan, Local Employee Sues P&G in Privacy Case, China Daily (June 11, 1998)
Zhang Ye et al., Hope for China's Migrant Women Workers, China Bus. Rev., May/June 2002, at 30, 31
Zhi Su, Occupational Health and Safety Legislation and Implementation in China, 9 Int. J. Occup. Environ. Health 302, 305 (2004)
Zhiqiang Liu, Institution and Inequality: The Hukou System in China, 33 J. COMP. ECON. 133, 137 (2005)
Zhong Y, Li D. Potential Years of Life Lost and Work Tenure Lost When Silicosis is Compared with Other Pneumoconioses, 21 Scand. J. Work Environ. Health (Suppl. 2) 91 (1995)
Zhongpeng Zhao, Legislative Recommendation by the All China Women's Federation Puts Forth Concept of “Sexual Harassment” for the First Time, Beijing Morning Daily, Mar. 4, 2005