On June 29 2012 the State Administration of Work Safety, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security and the All China Federation of Trade Unions jointly promulgated the amended Administrative Regulations on Measures to Control High Temperature, which supersede the previous 1960 regulations.

The regulations require employers to take special labour protection measures in high-temperature environments. The regulations also impose several restrictions on employers operating in extreme temperatures:

  • If, according to the official weather forecast centre's report, the highest temperature during the day will reach 40 degrees Celsius or above, outdoor operations must be suspended for the entire day.
  • If the highest temperature is forecasted to reach between 37 and 40 degrees Celsius, employees must not work outdoors for more than six hours that day or during the three-hour window in which the highest temperature is expected to be reached.
  • If the highest temperature is forecasted to reach between 35 and 37 degrees Celsius, employers must take measures (eg, shift work) to reduce individual employees' consecutive hours of outdoor work. Outdoor overtime work is not permitted.

Employers should conduct health checks (and bear the associated costs) for employees engaging in high-temperature work. Further, employers may not arrange for pregnant employees and minor employees to work outdoors where the temperature is above 35 degrees Celsius or indoors where the temperature is above 33 degrees Celsius. For any suspension of work due to high temperature, employers cannot reduce employees' salary.

Employers are also required to pay a high-temperature subsidy to employees who work outdoors when the temperature reaches 35 degrees Celsius or above (according to the official weather forecast centre's report of the same day) or when the indoor temperature reaches 33 degrees Celsius or above. However, the law is silent as to how the indoor temperature should be recorded or monitored and whether there is an acceptable minimum duration of such high temperature for the purposes of the subsidy. With respect to the subsidy amount, the regulations refer to local rules that are periodically promulgated by provincial labour authorities.

With regard to penalties, if an employer violates relevant work safety provisions related to the health of employees, the employer may be ordered to rectify the non-compliance, suspend operations or face criminal liabilities in serious situations.

For further information on this topic please contact Andreas Lauffs or Jonathan Isaacs at Baker & McKenzie's Hong Kong office by telephone (+852 2846 1888), fax (+852 2845 0476) or email (andreas.lauffs@bakermckenzie.com or jonathan.isaacs@bakermckenzie.com).

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