On June 21, 2016, the Beijing Work Safety Bureau started conducting inspections to check whether employers are paying high-temperature subsidies to eligible employees. During these inspections, labor authorities have reportedly stated that any employer who fails to pay the high-temperature subsidy may be fined up to RMB10,000. The labor authorities have not made clear whether this fine will be levied for each individual violation or will be levied once to cover all related violations, though the latter would seem more likely.

Under Beijing’s high-temperature subsidy payment rules, employees who work outdoors are eligible for high-temperature subsidies of RMB180 per month from June to August. Employees who work indoors are also eligible for high-temperature subsidies of RMB120 per month from June to August if indoor workplace temperatures reach 33˚C or higher during the day. The rules do not specify the penalty for employers who fail to pay the subsidy, but recent media reports claim the Beijing labor authorities have stated that employers could be fined up to RMB10,000.

Separately, a recently published case in Qingdao Municipality (in Shandong Province) sheds additional light on how far liability for unpaid high-temperature subsidies could extend. In Qingdao, a court ordered an employer to pay an employee for seven years of unpaid high-temperature subsidies (totaling RMB2,680). Since the high-temperature subsidy is considered part of an employee’s labor remuneration, there is no time limit for the employee to claim back pay of the high-temperature subsidy while still employed by the employer. Once employment is terminated, the employee has one year from the termination date to bring a claim for back pay of the high-temperature subsidy.

Key Take-Away Points:

Since the high-temperature subsidy is paid infrequently and in relatively small amounts, employers can easily neglect making the payments. However, with the labor authorities emphasizing the high-temperature subsidy during inspections, every employer should review its current high-temperature subsidy payment policy and practices to ensure compliance with the law.