CHINA | Employer Obligations during Quarantine

Omicron sub-variant BA. 5.2.1 cases have been detected in China and cities across China are continuing to contain related omicron and sub-variant cluster breakouts through epidemic control and prevention measures (‘Measures’).

Specifically, those positive cases are quarantined for medical observation and close contacts or secondary contracts of the positive cases face temporary lockdown measures.

For employers, understanding salary obligations for employees in quarantine or lockdown can be challenging. Employers must adhere to labour obligations according to the law otherwise may face labour disputes. We provide a Q&A on employer obligations when employees are quarantined or in lockdown.

What is the salary obligation for quarantined employees?

Quarantined employees providing  normal work in quarantine or under other emergency measures taken by the government based on  epidemic prevention and control shall be treated as normal attendance and paid normal remuneration.

According to the Notice on Properly handling the Labor Relations during the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia infected by Novel Coronavirus (the “Notice”) issued by the general office of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, infected or suspected employees  suspected employees deemed as close contact and cannot provide normal work during quarantine or medical observation, or due to the implementation of isolation measures or other emergency measures by the government, shall be treated as normal attendance and paid normal remuneration.

For employers, the Notice suggests that employers negotiate with the employee to treated the period as annual leave or rest days. If negotiations are not established, the employer can implement the overall arrangements according to the annual leave of the isolated employees according to law.

What if my enterprise faces difficulties in production and operation due to the impact of the epidemic measures?

Under the Notice, the enterprise may adjust the salary, rotate the post and rest, shorten the working hours and so forth through consultation with the employees.

If the enterprise is shutdown within a wage payment cycle, the enterprise shall still pay the wages of employees according to the standards stipulated in the labor contract.

If the employee is still unable to provide normal work beyond one wage payment cycle, the enterprise shall pay living expenses, and the standard of living expenses shall be implemented in accordance with the Measures of the provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government.

What if employee’s labour contract expires during quarantine?

In the event that the employee’s labor contract expires during quarantine, the date shall be postponed till the  employee finishes the quarantine or medical observation period.

How to determine the arbitration statutory limitation during epidemic measures?

Under, the Labor Dispute Mediation and Arbitration Law of the People’s Republic of China the statutory limitation for application of labour disputes arbitration is limited to one year (‘the period’). The period shall be calculated from the date the parties recognise or should recognise the infringement of rights. However, if the parties are unable to apply for arbitration within the  period due to force majeure or other justified reasons such as epidemic measures, the period shall be suspended and the period shall be recalculated from the date the force majeure or other justified reasons finishes.

Equally, If the labor and personnel dispute arbitration institution cannot hear the case within the period due to the impact of the epidemic measures, the hearing time limit may be postponed accordingly.

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