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How to handle your human resources during the Coronavirus

by Tom Pattinson
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Human Resources during virus

During this tumultuous period where revenues are down, managing your staff is essential, explain Patrick Gu and Yang Yuhua of LLinks Law Offices

Do I have to pay staff full salaries even if my company has had to suspend business or production due to the epidemic?

Yes, you should pay at least up to 30 days in full. Beyond this period, your company can negotiate new payment standards with employees, who will earn their compensation according to the actual work they carry out.

If your company does not require employees to work, you will have to compensate them with a living stipend. This is calculated in percentage to the minimum local wage, as follows:

  • Beijing: 70% of local minimum wage;
  • Shanghai: 100% of local minimum wage;
  • Guangdong, Jiangsu, Hebei: 80% of local minimum wage;
  • Wuhan: 70% of local minimum wage.

Your company should pay the living stipend until work resumes or until the expiry of the employment contract.

If your company does not require employees to work, you will have to compensate them with a living stipend

I have an employee who can’t return to work due to controls on public transport or self-quarantine measures. What compensation do I need to pay?

You will have to pay a full salary if your employee was on a business trip during the outbreak of the epidemic, and cannot return to the workplace in Beijing. The same will apply after you and the worker have successfully negotiated that he/she can work from home.

Can I terminate the employment contract of an employee who is quarantined/isolated for medical treatment or observation during the epidemic emergency period?

Your company cannot terminate a worker who has been:

  • diagnosed with COVID-19 infection; or
  • suspected with COVID-19 infection; or
  • classified as a close contact person required for quarantine; or
  • unable to work due to the relevant epidemic emergency control measures.

You can refer to article 40 and 41 of the Employment Contract Law for a clear explanation. What if your employee’s contract expires during the quarantine period? His contract should be extended until his medical treatment, observation period, quarantine period, or the epidemic emergency measures are over.

However, you may terminate a worker in the following scenarios:

  • the worker commits a serious breach of the rules and policies or code of conduct (i.e. eligible for dismissal with cause);
  • the worker fabricates or intentionally spreads false information to cause public panic or other violation(s) of the epidemic emergency measures.

An employee is suspected to have been infected with COVID-19 and is quarantined/isolated for observation and medical treatment, what compensation do I need to pay?

You should pay employees their regular salary if they are:

  • Diagnosed with COVID-19 infection;
  • Suspected with COVID-19 infection;
  • Had close contact person during the quarantine for medical treatment or observation; and
  • Unable to work due to the relevant epidemic emergency control measures.

Besides, he or she is entitled to get relevant sick pay If he is diagnosed with the virus and needs medical treatment and/or recuperation after medical observation and quarantine, or after the relevant epidemic emergency control measures are no longer needed.

How do I handle employment dispute cases that arise during the epidemic period?

The epidemic has led many cases to be delayed in the arbitration courts. In case a dispute arises between a company and an employee, they both may find it difficult to apply for an employment dispute arbitration within the statutory time limit. That is why this limitation period for arbitration can be delayed.

At times, you or your attorney may not make it to the hearing at an arbitration institution due to the epidemic. If this happens, you can apply to postpone the hearing.

At other times, the employment dispute arbitration tribunal cannot rule on a case within the prescribed time frame. In this case, too, the deadline may be extended.

Can I refuse to hire job candidates that come from badly affected areas?

No, as an employer you cannot discriminate against job applicants if they come from Hubei, or if they have been quarantined. That will be regarded as employment discrimination, and it is unlawful.

In addition, the Cybersecurity Law stipulates a principle of “necessity” or “minimum necessity” when it comes to the collection and use of information collected for the purpose of epidemic control.

For this reason, employers shall protect their employees’ information.  They should not disclose or disseminate such information, but instead take appropriate confidentiality measures.

For more information on HR issues visit LLinks Law Offices

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