Hey guys and gals, It’s been almost 3 weeks since the Shanghai lockdown began. This lockdown was meant to last until the 5th of April, yet here we are, in mid April still stuck at home. The latest official quarantine schedule hinted that some people could be free to go outside this week and others in late April, but so far nothing appears certain.
In the midst of this lockdown, employers have had to adapt in how they operate. Many have opted for remote work, however not all businesses have been able to go full remote or even stay open during the lockdown, raising a lot of questions and concerns regarding employees and their wellbeing. Whether this affects the income of your friends, yourself or even your ayi, it’s important for everyone to be aware of the regulations regarding employers and their employees during the Shanghai lockdown.
Under such circumstances, the question of balancing the protection of employees’ rights with the operation of the business comes before employers—even facing the pressure of lockdown, there are rules regarding the remuneration and protection of employees that employers still need to comply with.
Since March 2022, a new outbreak of the corona virus has swept across Shanghai. Due to the extremely contagious nature of Omicron, the number of people infected rose rapidly and the government demanded home quarantine. This also forced enterprises with confirmed, close-knit employees to introduce measures such as working from home and suspending operations. On the 1st of April, Shanghai began a strict home quarantine for every resident.
Salary Regulations During the Lockdown
During the period of delayed return to work affected by the epidemic, priority will be given to the use of various types of leave such as paid annual leave and enterprise self-imposed welfare leave. And employees are paid in accordance with the provisions of the relevant leave. (SMHRASSB, 2022). This means that if you are unable to work from home, your paid leave days can be used up to receive full salary during this time.
Employees who become New coronary pneumonia patients, carriers; or suspected patients; or close contacts
The enterprise pays employers salaries for the period of isolation on the basis of normal labor. (SMHRASSB, 2022)
According to the PRC Labor Contract Law, the employer cannot terminate an employment contract during a period of illness or during or medical treatment of the employee suffering from illness or injury not related to work.
Therefore, if the employee is infected with the coronavirus and is at home or in the hospital, they are legally undergoing medical treatment and the company cannot terminate the employment relationship with this employee.
Employees who can work from home during lockdown
Regular payment of salaries (SMHRASSB, 2022). The law stipulates that employees who are forced to work from home due to the lockdown must receive their full regular salary.
Employees who cannot work from home during lockdown
During the period of delayed return to work affected by the epidemic, priority will be given to the use of various types of leave such as paid annual leave and enterprise self-imposed welfare leave. And employees are paid in accordance with the provisions of the relevant leave. (SMHRASSB, 2022)
For employees who are still unable to provide normal labor after using all types of leave or who are otherwise unable to provide normal labor, salaries shall be paid in accordance with the standards set out in the employment contract within one payroll period; those who exceed one payroll period shall be paid the cost of living in accordance with the relevant regulations. (MOHRSS a, 2020)
[Shanghai’s standard for calculating the cost of living: the city’s minimum wage (SMHRASSB, 2020)-RMB 2590.]
TLDR: If you cannot work from home during the lockdown, your employer must still pay you the minimum wage in Shanghai (2590CNY).
Employees who are in enterprises facing stoppage of work and shutdown of production for enterprises.
When a company suspends operations during a wage payment cycle, salaries shall be paid in accordance with the standards set out in the employment contract.
Where the suspension of operations exceeds a wage payment cycle, the company can pay wages to its workers under a new agreement between the two parties.
However, wages must not be below the locally established minimum wage standard.
In a Lockdown state, companies need to protect the livelihood of their employees, i.e. the local minimum wage. Therefore, during a Lockdown, the employer can reduce the salaries paid, but cannot fail to pay them.
At the same time, government departments stipulate that employers are not allowed to terminate the employment relationship with their employees during an epidemic, except in certain circumstances. If the employer resorts to terminating the employment relationship, not paying wages, or requiring regular work without paying wages as agreed in the employment contract, the employee has the right to apply for labor arbitration or litigation. (MOHRSS b, 2020)
Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security of the People’s Republic of China a. 2020. Notice on the proper handling of labor relations during the prevention and control of the pneumonia outbreak caused by the novel coronavirus infection. Available at: http://www.gov.cn/zhengce/zhengceku/2020-01/27/content_5472508.htm
Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security of the People’s Republic of China b. 2020. Opinions on stabilizing labor relations and supporting employers to resume work and production during the prevention and control of the novel coronavirus infection pneumonia epidemic. Available at: http://www.gov.cn/zhengce/zhengceku/2020-02/08/content_5476137.htm
SHANGHAI MUNICIPAL HUMAN RECOURCES AND SOCIAL SECURITY BUREAU. 2022. Is a company required to pay salaries when an employee is quarantined for 14 days for personal conduct?. Available at: http://rsj.sh.gov.cn/tfkcx_17604/20220311/t0035_1406344.html
SHANGHAI MUNICIPAL HUMAN RECOURCES AND SOCIAL SECURITY BUREAU. 2020. Notice on the implementation of support and safeguard measures in response to the novel coronavirus infection pneumonia outbreak. Available at: https://rsj.sh.gov.cn/tqtwj_17340/20201009/t0035_1394466.html