Employment law reforms in China improve workers’ lot

The Chinese government has been focusing on reforms that will sig­nificantly affect the national employment law.

The most relevant piece of legislation is the Employment Promotion Law, issued by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, which comes into effect in January 2008.

Its aim is to reduce the high unemployment rates in rural and urban areas by providing equal employment opportunities to job applicants.

The most important terms of the law are related to fair employment and the extension of the protection against discrimination to individuals who are carriers of a disease that does not prevent them from working.

This is significant since more than 10% of the Chinese population carry the Hepatitis B virus and many are rejected by potential employers on these grounds.

Also, for the first time in Chinese employment legislation, the new law grants victims of discrimination the right to claim against the discriminating employer, forcing them to focus on employees’ rights to fair treatment.

Meanwhile, the Legislative Affairs Office of China has drafted regulations on paid annual holidays for public employees with 12 months’ service and the Standing Com­mittee of the National People’s Congress is evaluating a draft Bill to provide free arbitration services to workers.

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