New PIPL rules on processing employee personal information
Maternity leave, paternity leave and childcare leave
More cities banning practice of social insurance contribution through entrusted agents
Guiding cases on overtime disputes
Ongoing legislation on internet platform workers
Expectations for 2022

Despite the continued impact of the covid-19 pandemic in 2021, the Chinese economy managed to make a substantial recovery. The pandemic has, however, resulted in changes to some typical aspects of human resources management, which are likely to be encountered in 2022 and the following years.

New PIPL rules on processing employee personal information

The Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL), among others, has introduced the following major changes:

  • the single processing basis of individual consent under the Cybersecurity Law has changed to multiple processing bases. This includes the requirement to conclude or fulfil a contract where the employee is a party and to carry out necessary human resources management in accordance with company rules or signed collective contracts as prescribed by law or in fulfilment of a legal obligation;
  • a personal information processor (ie, an employer) must fully and accurately notify individuals (ie, employees) of the following information before such processing takes place:
    • the processor's basic information;
    • the purposes and methods of processing;
    • the categories of personal information that will be processed; and
    • retention periods, methods and procedures for individuals to exercise their rights to their personal information.

The difficult issue of cross-border transfers of employee personal information is still awaiting further clarification as to whether it can be processed as a matter of "human resources management" or if it should be processed following individual consent from employees.

Maternity leave, paternity leave and childcare leave

In 2021, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress revised the Law on Population and Family Planning, which allowed families to have three children and provided new or expecting parents, who were aligned with the law in this regard, to enjoy extended maternity leave or other benefits. Accordingly, most provincial-level regions have revised or made local regulations to extend the maternity leave and to provide childcare leave as new benefits.

More cities banning practice of social insurance contribution through entrusted agents

While the Social Insurance Law requires employers to contribute social insurance for its employees in the city where the employer is registered, in practice, it is common for employers to pay social insurance via entrusted agents for employees who do not live in the registered locations. Changes have been made to prohibit such practices in some cities in recent years (eg, Beijing in 2020); more cities, such as Hangzhou, followed suit in 2021. It is possible that even more cities may adopt similar prohibitions in the future, which could be a challenge for employers that have few premises but many employees throughout China.

Guiding cases on overtime disputes

In 2021, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MOHRSS) and the Supreme People's Court issued 10 guiding cases on overtime disputes to stress the enforcement of working hours and overtime payment rules. The employers lost in all cases.

The guiding cases covered the most common issues relating to overtime work and overtime payment. This indicates that:

  • the employee's waiver of overtime payment would be deemed invalid if it denied an employee's right for remuneration;
  • employers cannot dismiss an employee if they object to overtime work, other than under limited exceptions provided by law (eg, to combat natural disasters); and
  • an employee's overtime work should be recognised if the employer required it, even if the employer did not follow the required process to seek prior approval for such work.

So far, labour bureaus usually initiate the inspection when they receive a complaint a practice that is expected to stay the same. However, stronger awareness of the overtime rules will possibly allow more employees to file complaints on overtime issues.

Ongoing legislation on internet platform workers

Ever since the rise of platform economy, the government has been constantly paying close attention to the labour protection of internet platform workers. In 2021, the MOHRSS, the Supreme Court and the All-China Federation of Trade Unions jointly issued the Guiding Opinions on Protection of the Labour Rights and Interests of Workers Employed in New Forms (the Opinions).

Although workers can have an employer-employee relationship with platform employers, the Opinions identified a separate type of workers: those subject to labour management of platforms but who are not party to an employer-employee relationship. In order to promote labour protection for platform workers, the Opinions require:

  • minimum wage to be paid to workers who are not fully party to an employer-employee relationship;
  • the specification of labour quota standards;
  • reasonable remuneration for statutory holidays that is higher than pay for normal working hours;
  • a focus on the pilot programmes, such as occupational injury insurance; and
  • trade unions at all levels to actively recruit platform workers.

The Opinions also encourage trade unions to promote industry collective contracts and development of industry-specific labour standards.

As the platform economy has a large number of workers, more regulations are expected to be issued to regulate all aspects of labour protection in the platform-worker relationship.

Expectations for 2022

The changes in 2021 will continue to pose challenges to employers; therefore, further regulations for implementation or clarification may be expected. Employers will have to maintain compliance as the legislation evolves and consider revising their policies in relation to employee personal data processing and parental leave. Employers that work with employees who live outside registered locations should also be prepared for changes in social insurance contribution practices. Further, employers should be mindful of overtime work standards, especially if they do not currently record their employees' working hours.

For further information on this topic please contact Hongjuan Bai or Meng Li at JunHe by email ([email protected] and [email protected]). The JunHe website can be accessed at