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1. Emergency Measures

As the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic still hangs over the world and continues to have a profound impact across societies and industries, lockdowns are gradually being eased in some countries. In China, businesses are resuming operations, schools are reopening, and in general, all seems to be back to new normal. However, the COVID-19 crisis has catapulted us into a new future with a myriad of challenges, especially for rules and practice in employment, as they are closely connected to people’s livelihoods, state policies and economic developments, which have been badly hit by the epidemic. The traditional employment model. borne out of the industrial age, is outdated and clumsy in the face of platform employment, telework and various flexible employment.  The current employment regulatory regimes and rigid identification of “employment relation” lag behind the changing reality and may trigger controversies when applied to new matters.  The employment system for enterprises also faces multiple challenges: salary reduction, redundancy and suspension of work may lead to further labour disputes; countless policies, judicial practices vary in different cities push refinement of employment compliance; and new issues like employment discrimination, dissemination by social media, and data privacy etc. cause unforeseeable problems that are deeply troubling Chinese enterprises.

Decrees, orders or guidelines in effect and pertaining to reopening facilities.

In February 2020, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (“MOHRSS”), jointly with the All-China Federation of Trade Unions released Guiding Opinions on Enterprise’s Work Resumption during the Prevention and Control of COVID-19 Pandemic (“Opinion”), which requires enterprises to learn about situations where employees are being quarantined or under emergency measures adopted by local governments, and also inspires enterprises to proactively explore methods of stabilising jobs. Various local governments released protective measures and outbreak responses in the process of work resumption, such as strengthening workplace ventilation, provide protective gear and hand-washing facilities, sterilise workplace, dormitory, and cafeteria, avoid or minimise people gathering and collective activities. As a result, China has entered the “new normal” with more than 26 million rural residents having arrived in the workplace[1], and employers should pay close attention to the latest reopening policies issued by local governments from time to time.

Optimal approach to keep track of the latest updates.

For latest updates, please refer to the (English version) link of State Council of the People’s Republic of China (“PRC”): http://english.www.gov.cn/news/topnews/202005/30/content_WS5ed2465fc6d0b3f0e949920f.html

[1] Over 95% of migrant workers resume work, China Daily, available online at: http://english.www.gov.cn/news/topnews/202006/01/content_WS5ed4b216c6d0b3f0e9499332.html

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