The recent coronavirus has taught us that emergency management procedures are not only essential to mitigating risk, but also to keeping your staff healthy and remaining within the law, write Patrick Gu and Yang Yuhua of LLinks Law Offices.
Prevention is key to containing the coronavirus outbreak, and businesses are not except from this responsibility. With this in mind, the Chinese government has issued an Emergency Response Law, which prompts companies to take preventive measures.
According to the law, companies must set up an internal epidemic emergency management team, thus ensuring a real-time response to the outbreak. Members of such team should include:
- Head: The company’s most senior executive shall head the team.
- Deputy Head: [suggested to be the senior executive in charge of production, safety and health], responsible for formulating and implementing specific internal measures.
- [EHS/Work Safety Department]: responsible for the emergency supplies, epidemic information collection, and specific internal measures.
- [Admin Department]: responsible for the HR, salary, welfare, leave arrangements, and specific internal measures.
- [PR Department]: responsible for responding to emergency incidents, and for the company’s crisis management. This department will liaise directly with government authorities, as well as with the media.
Companies need to implement some additional management on a day-to-day basis. Consequently, they should establish a sound internal management system:
- Epidemic emergency management: responsible for monitoring employees’ health conditions.
- Holiday/leave and work resumption management: ensure the resumption of work in a realistic and orderly way.
- Work health protection management: provide training on the work health protection & quarantine measures.
- Other management: ensure statutory duties are duly discharged, and ensure effective communication with regulators and relevant authorities.
- Psychological counselling
All entities should respect the Emergency Response Law. If their failure to do so leads to the occurrence of a serious emergency, the local government may impose administrative penalties, such as business suspension, the license/permit being revoked or repealed, and fines of between RMB50,000 and RMB200,000.
The government can apply such penalties even when companies do not take required preventive measures, or do not eradicate an identified risk during the epidemic emergency period. Where serious enough, the violation/ lack of compliance can be subject to more severe public security penalties.
Furthermore, any more grave violation may be subject to criminal liabilities in relation to the following crimes:
- Negligence endangering public safety;
- Fabricating and intentionally spreading false information to cause public panic;
- Dereliction of duty or wilful misconduct;
- Production and sale of counterfeit and /or defective products (including medical products and equipment).
For more information on your legal rights contact LLinks Law Offices