China has a new employment law. This new law significantly impacts an employer who does not directly employ its own workers, but instead uses agencies such as FESCO or third party staffing companies, also known as labor dispatching agencies. At the end of 2012, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress adopted the Decision on the Revision of the Labor Contract Law of the People’s Republic of China (“Amendment”). The Amendment will take effect July 1st of this year. The intent of the Amendment is to offer better protection to workers employed by labor dispatching agencies.
Labor dispatching is a common method of employment where a worker enters into an employment contract with a labor dispatch agency and is then dispatched to work in another company – commonly referred to as the “host company”. This type of employment arrangement has proved problematic because many of the dispatched workers are not paid wages commensurate with their work as compared to their direct hire, permanent employee counterparts. Additionally, the dispatched workers’ health and safety rights are not well protected. The Amendment tackles this problem by requiring employers to hire the majority of their workforce directly and by strictly controlling the number of dispatched laborers. Moreover, the Amendment clearly states that all employers shall stick to the principle of “equal pay for equal work”.