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China Announces Strict Prohibition of Covid-Based Job Discrimination

Authors: Carol Zhu and Yinbing Chen

On 1 August 2022, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security and the National Health Commission jointly issued the Urgent Circular of Cracking Down Job Discrimination Against Covid-recovered Patients (the “Circular”). According to the Circular, any organisation or individual shall not check others’ nucleic acid test results without permission, unless it is for the need of Covid prevention and control and the period to be checked for nucleic acid test results is set in a scientifical and reasonable manner. In addition, the Circular also stresses and prohibits employers from (i) releasing recruitment information that includes content about positive Covid test results in the history, (ii) refusing employment of candidates due to their Covid infection history, and (iii) applying any other job discrimination against Covid-recovered individuals during employment and recruitment process. In accordance with the Circular, employers’ violation of the foregoing rules may be subjected to public exposure or administrative penalty.

Key Action Points for Human Resources and In-house Counsel

Pursuant to PRC Employment Law, employees shall not be discriminated for their race, ethnicity, gender, or religious belief. This Circular expands the scope of job discrimination and prohibits Covid-based job discrimination. Employers in China shall be cautious and avoid Covid-based discrimination during the recruitment and employment processes.