international employment law firm alliance L&E Global

China: The Supreme People’s Court held that the Employer shall show proper kindness and tolerance when the Employee asks for leave to take care of seriously ill family member

Mr. Li (“Employee”) signed an employment contract with the Company (“Employer”) in 2021. on January 21, 2022, as the Employee’s father was suffering from advanced cancer, the Employee asked for leave from his direct supervisor to take care of his seriously ill father from January 24 to January 30 . During the period, the Employer considered that the Employee’s leave was not approved as absenteeism and requested the Employee to provide relevant materials and come back to work, and the Employee submitted his father’s medical record photos as requested. on January 28, the Employee’s father died of serious illness. On the same day, the company terminated the employment contract with the Employee on the grounds that the Employee’s leave was not approved as absenteeism.

Later, the Employee filed labor arbitration and litigation against the Employer and claimed for the compensation for illegal termination of the employment contract. The Employer defended that the Employee’s behavior seriously violated of the Employer’s rules and regulations and shall be subject to termination of the employment contract. The Court held that the Employee shall abide the rules and regulations of the Employer while the Employer shall exercise the right of employment management in a bona fide, tolerant and reasonable manner. As the Employee’s father was seriously ill and needed to be accompanied, the Employee applied to the company for leave of absence, which was not only to deal with sudden family affairs, but also to fulfill the filial duty of a son. Knowing that situation, the Employer still terminated the employment contract with the Employee on the grounds of Employee’s absenteeism as the leave was not approved, which was not in line with the requirements of friendliness in the socialist core values, and contrary to the traditional filial culture of the Chinese nation. Finally, the Court ruled that the termination was illegal and unreasonable. This case was cited by the Supreme People’s Court as one of the typical civil cases of vigorously promoting socialist core values.

Key Action Points

As members of society, the Employer shall reasonably assume the social responsibility of filial piety and respect for the elderly, and appropriately accommodate and encourage employees’ filial behavior of taking care of their parents. Therefore, the Employer shall treat it with empathy and give the Employee the convenience to ask for leave, instead of managing mechanically and negatively.