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Center Publication

China—Public Policy

by Qingwen Xu & Wing Kwan Anselm Lam

Januuary 2010—Since 1994 there have been significant changes in China’s labor laws.

The 1994 Labor Law established special protection for female workers, including prohibiting female workers from working in physical labor-intense areas such as mines or requiring pregnant workers to work overtime or nightshifts.

The 1995 law on Maternal and Infant Health care as well as a two-decades old policy, Female Workers’ Labor Protection Regulation of 1988 provided additional protections for female employees:

  • Employers cannot decrease salary or terminate the labor contract during pregnancy or maternity;
  • Employers must allow 90 days maternity leave; and
  • Employers must permit new mothers one hour per day deducted from working hours for the purpose of feeding for a year.

China’s 2008 Labor Contract Law, which builds on the 1995 Labor Law, changes the employer-employee relationship by empowering employees and protecting worker’s rights:

  • The law increases regulations on written labor contracts, use of temporary workers and severance pay;
  • Applies to all employers, no matter how few employees a business has;
  • Requires all labor contracts to be in writing and imposes significant penalties on employers for failing to comply; and
  • Enables employees to claim double salary for months worked without a contract for up to 12 month’s salary.

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