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China: Official Guidance is released on Handling Covid-19 Pandemic-related Employment Disputes

Authors: Carol Zhu and Yinbing Chen

The Shanghai High People’s Court and the Shanghai Municipal Human Resources and Social Security Bureau jointly published the Replies to Several Questions on Dealing with Pandemic-related Employment Disputes (the “Replies”), which provides official guidance on employment management during a pandemic. The Replies have been prepared to answer 12 hypothetical questions that relate to employment management during the pandemic period.  Specifically, the Replies cover matters pertinent to: (i) the principles that shall be followed by all courts and human resources and social security departments in Shanghai when dealing with pandemic-related employment disputes; (ii) employers’ legal positions if they fail to promptly sign or renew written employment contracts with employees, due to influence of the pandemic or pandemic prevention and control measures; (iii) how employee sharing agreements shall be signed during the pandemic period; (iv) how employees shall be disciplined by employers for failing to comply with pandemic prevention and control measures; and (v) how employers should pay salary to employees who are confirmed COVID-19 patients or asymptomatic COVID-19 patients and their close contacts, during their isolation period for medical treatment or observation.

Key Action Points for Human Resources and In-house Counsel

The Official Guidance that was released is an important source of reference for employers, in that it will help them to better understand the application of law in various situations, in practice. During the pandemic period, it is much more likely that employment disputes will arise. As a result, it is thus essential for employers to utilise such official guidance in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of the current hot issues and avoid the potential legal risks associated with employment management.