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5. Managing COVID-19-Related Employee Issues

Management of quarantine, childcare and medical leave for employees affected by COVID-19.

For employees who are confirmed to be infected, an asymptomatic carrier, suspected of infection or having close contact with the COVID-19 virus, employers shall pay them their normal salary during their quarantine or medical observation period. After the end of quarantine, if the employee remains sick and fails to return to work, the medical treatment period-related regulations shall apply. The Beijing Municipal Government released a policy regarding paid parental leave, allowing one employee per family to work remotely in order to care for children under 18 years old, and requiring the employer to pay the salary based on their normal attendance during the remote work period.  However, this policy was formulated when school openings had been postponed, and is likely outdated since schools began to gradually reopen in May.

Employees who fear infection and refuse to work.

In the absence of any compulsory obligations imposed on employers as to how to handle such employment relations in this situation, it is advisable that employers negotiate with employees to reach an amicable solution, such as arranging for work from home, paid annual leaves, beneficiary leaves, or non-paid leaves.  In addition, according to a judicial opinion released by the Beijing High People’s Court, where the employee fails to return to work for a relatively long period, the employer may pay the employee’s basic living fees from the second salary payment cycle, normally, the second month.

Disclosure of employees who are infected.

Under PRC Law on Control and Prevention Infectious Disease, if employers should identify an infected employee, they should report it to the relevant medical institution. However, employers shall not publicise or disseminate employees’ personal data without authorisation, which may infringe the individual’s legitimate interests as protected by the PRC Civil Code. Only the State Council, health administrative department at provincial level and government, at or above county level, have the right of publicise the relevant information.

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