- China will no longer manage COVID-19 as a Class A infection, but rather as a Class B infection starting from 8 January 2023.
- Here is a list of FAQs to address some of the most important employment-related concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic.
1. If an employee is infected with COVID-19 and needs to be suspended from work for medical treatment, the absence from work is expected to be treated as sick leave, starting from 8 January 2023.
As announced on 26 December 2022, China will no longer manage COVID-19 as a Class A infection, but rather as a Class B infection starting from 8 January 2023. Due to this change, the employer is allowed to pay sick pay instead of full pay.
a) In Shenzhen, the requirement is no less than 60% of the salary for standard working hours. See Article 23 of the Regulations of the Shenzhen Municipality on the Wage Payment to Employees (2022 Amendment).
b) In Shanghai, it depends on the length of continuous service of the employee. According to Article 4 of the Notice of the Shanghai Labor Bureau on Strengthening the Management of Sickness Leave for Employees in Enterprises to Safeguard Employees’ Livelihood during Sickness Leave, if an employee is on sick leave for less than six consecutive months due to illness or injury not caused by work, the enterprise shall pay sick leave at the following rates:
- For those with less than 2 years of continuous service, 60% of their salary;
- For those with at least 2 years but less than 4 years of continuous service, 70% of their salary;
- For those with at least 4 years but less than 6 years of continuous service, 80% of their salary;
- For those with at least 6 years but less than 8 years of continuous service, 90% of their salary;
- For those with at least 8 years of continuous service, 100% of their salary.
c) For other cities, the general requirement for sick leave is no less than 80% of the minimum wage standard, as per Article 21 of the Regulation of Beijing Municipality on Payment of Wages and Article 24 of the Regulation of Guangdong Province on the Payment of Wages, etc.
2. If the employee is infected with COVID-19, and the enterprise adopts flexible working or working from home, the salary should be paid normally.
Guidelines issued before 8 January 2023 (the Opinions on Providing Judicial Services and Protection for Stable Employment) by the Supreme People’s Court regulate how salaries are paid to employees who work from home or work flexibly in conformity with the law. According to the document, the People’s Court shall support a request for an employee to be paid with a normal salary when the employer has arranged for the employee to work flexibly or work at home.
3. Is it a work-related injury if an employee is infected with COVID-19 in the workplace?
Hardly ever. According to the Notice by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, the Ministry of Finance, and the National Health Commission of Issues Concerning the Guarantee of Medical Staff and Other Related Staff Infected with Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pneumonia Due to Performance of Duties, infection of Medical Staff and Other Related Staff can be recognized as work-related injuries, while infection of other personnel cannot be recognized as work-related injuries.
4. How can enterprises in difficult industries affected by the COVID-19 outbreak manage the payment issue of employees’ salaries?
Enterprises can negotiate and come to an agreement with their employees to stay in their jobs by salary adjustment, rotation, shortening working hours, etc. and try not to lay off employees or lay off as few as possible. Eligible enterprises may be entitled to a subsidy for employee retention in accordance with relevant regulations. Where an enterprise stops work and production within one salary payment cycle, it is still required to pay the employees’ salaries in accordance with the employment agreement. Where more than one salary payment cycle has been completed, and the employees are working normally, the enterprise shall pay the employee no less than the local minimum wage standard. Where more than one salary payment cycle has been completed, and the employees have not worked, the enterprise shall pay a living wage, the standard of which shall be in accordance with the regulations of the province, autonomous region or municipality.
5. Can an enterprise arrange for employees to take annual leave when it stops work and production during the COVID-19 outbreak?
Yes. Please note that when arranging for annual leave, employees should be clearly informed of this by written notice, which, on the one hand, protects the interests of the employees and, on the other hand, preserves the record in written form. For a leave longer than the number of days allowable for annual leave, please refer to FAQ IV.
6. Can an employee be dismissed if he/she is unable to continue working after infection?
An enterprise is not allowed to dismiss an employee for reasons such as having been or being infected with COVID-19, or being in home isolation. However, if the employee is still unable to work due to medical reasons after the end of the medical treatment, or if the enterprise is having operating difficulties, etc., the enterprise shall refer to Articles 40 and 41 of the Labor Law when dismissing or laying off the employee, and handle the matter in a prudent and lawful way.
Guidelines for Epidemic Prevention and Control of Practitioners in Key Industries
Key industries refer to those industries that maintain the basic operation of society, including public security, transportation, logistics, mail delivery, water, electricity, gas and heating supply industries, as well as large enterprises.
Vaccination should be promoted, and a system of rotation and preparation for key positions and procedures should be established.
Employees should follow the simple rule of “Home-Workplace” during the outbreaks, raise their awareness of personal protection, be guided to monitor their own health, immediately report symptoms, such as fever, dry cough, weakness and sore throat, to the enterprise, and carry out PCR testing.
In principle, employees infected with COVID-19 should not be encouraged to work, and if they must be on duty, they should do a good job of personal protection, reduce contact with others, increase ventilation in the workplace, and clean and disinfect the workplace more frequently.
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