Subsequent to various relevant national and local rules, on 7 February 2020, together with three national associations of employees and employers, China’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security issued its opinions on supporting measures for re-opening of business during the period of coronavirus prevention and control (“MHRSS Opinions 2020/8”; link). We have summarized these opinions below for your kind reference:
1. Home Office or Taking Leave
If the resumption of work or business re-opening is prevented by the epidemic, the employers should actively communicate with their employees. Should it be feasible, flexible working modes such as home office may be arranged. Otherwise, in consultation with employees, the employers should preferentially arrange their employees to take leave, including paid annual leave and self-established welfare leave.
2. Flexible Arrangement of Working Hours
After re-opening, in consultation with their employees, the employers should arrange working hours flexibly by, for example, shifting time of on duty and off duty or making them flexible.
3. Protective Measures
When the business is reopened, the employers should take necessary protective measures. Such measures can be found in detailed local rules such as a guidance issued by the Liaoning Province (link).
Except in cases of termination for cause and mutual termination, an employer may not unilaterally terminate the employment contract with their employee or return agency worker during the period of no work caused by the governmental measures.
After business re-opening, should the employees refuse to return to work without justification, they can be punished according to law.
If a mass layoff cannot be avoided after taking relevant measures, a mass layoff plan has to be made and implemented in accordance with the applicable law.
If operations are suspended during a payment cycle (e.g. the first month) due to the governmental measures against the epidemic, the employers has to pay regular wages according to the employment contracts. Should the work stoppage last longer than one payment cycle and where no normal work has been provided during the prolonged work stoppage, the employers shall pay the local living fees to their employees.
In order to stabilize the jobs, after consultation and agreement with their employees, the employers may adjust employees’ salary, flexibly arrange work schedules, rest shifts, shorten working hours and/or even extend salary payment period.
During the isolation period imposed by the competent authority, the employers must pay the employees their regular wages during such period. Should medical treatment be required after such isolation period, the wages during such treatment period shall be paid according to applicable national and local statutory provisions.
Should an employee work during the extended Lunar New Year Holidays for preventing and controlling the epidemic, compensation leave should be provided first. If it is not feasible, statutory overtime shall be paid (i.e. 200% of regular salary).
6. Other Supporting Measures
HR service providers are encouraged to provide recruitment services free of charge or at a reduced fee rate.
Refund of unemployment insurance contribution for stabilizing jobs should benefit more enterprises that are qualified.
Enterprises may apply for governmental subsidy for trainings provided by them to their employees during the relevant period such as work stoppage due to governmental measures.
Trade union fees shall be fully repaid to the qualified enterprises affected by the epidemic.
Association member fees shall be repaid to the qualified enterprises accordingly that suffer difficulties caused by the epidemic.
Free online trainings shall be provided. All functions of the platform “China Online Vocational Training” (link) will be made accessible to enterprises and their employees free of charge.
Other measures such as reducing rental fees should be taken to reduce the enterprises’ burden.
In various provinces, the enterprises may also enjoy further local benefits such as postponing time limit for making social insurance contribution (as an example, please refer to the measures of Shanghai for reducing enterprises’ burden: link).