Employee Handbook in China – Why You Need One
You have probably heard that the employee handbook may be one of the most important documents for your business in China.
Yet, you may be wondering what you should put in it. After all, you want to come up with an employee handbook that is not only comprehensive but effective as well. This will help your employees, and this can lead to better work performance and a more efficient workplace.
In this article, we will show you what are the main aspects to include in an employee handbook in China.
- The importance of an employee handbook in China
- What to include in an employee handbook in China?
- Things to consider when writing the employee handbook
The employee handbook is a document provided by the company to employees before they start their employment, and contains information about company culture, rules, regulations, and procedures, as well as the rights and duties of employees.
We want to specify here that, differently from the employment contract, an employee handbook in China is not required by the regulation.
But the employee handbook is essential for protecting employers against labor disputes with employees.
Let’s take for example that an employer wants to terminate the contract of an employee because of a violation of company rules (stealing from the company, damaging properties, etc.).
Without an employee handbook showing what are the rules of the company and what the employee should follow as a rule, it will be very hard to prove that the employee violated the company rules in case of a labor dispute in the court.
And if the employer can’t prove that, this one has to pay severance pay or reinstate the employee in that position.
There are actually quite a lot of aspects to include and take some time to think about these points. Include everything from mandatory attendance to whistle-blowing, complaints, and all the rules and regulations of the company.
The more you include, the easier it will be to understand. Of course, you don’t need to fill your document with too much information because you don’t want your employees getting confused either.
In general, there are some important aspects to consider and include in the employee handbook in China. Below you can see a list of them.
General behavior policies
Rules and regulations about the behavior of employees should always be included. One important factor in this part is to address issues such as harassment. This can be a sensitive issue, so don’t go overboard with it. However, you do need to address the problem to let your employees know that they are not the only ones dealing with this problem.
Safety of the office, fire prevention, and accident handling should be included in the employee handbook.
Working hours and overtime
Under current Chinese employment laws, there are three types of working hour systems – standard working hour system, comprehensive working hour system, and non-fixed working hour system. The employee handbook should clarify the type of working hour system that is followed by the company, and also include policies related to overtime work.
Public holidays, leaves, and vacations
An employee handbook in China should also include specifications about the public Chinese holidays, and how many leaves is the employee entitled to use.
The employer has the liability to not only pay the salary, but also statutory social insurances (these vary from city to city in China). It is important to know for the employees because they expect to be correctly paid for the work provided, in case of overtime, and for bonuses.
This section includes information on the scope of confidential information, employees subject to confidentiality, consequences of breaching a confidentiality agreement, and a brief introduction on non-compete terms.
In China, it is not easy for an employer to unilaterally terminate an employment contract before its expiration. In accordance with the regulation, there are 14 legal reasons for which an employer can unilaterally terminate an employment contract.
Introducing the culture of the company is a great way to guide newcomers firsthand. It is important that they know what kind of business they are in and the corporate values they should observe.
Another thing you should include is a policy on written communication. You need to let your employees know that any verbal communication, written communication, or oral communication is completely expected to be done in a professional manner. No kind of communication is acceptable, and you will find that this can be a problem for some employees, especially those that are new or have never written down a message in their entire life.
A well-designed employee handbook clearly reflects the standard practices and policies of the company.
First of all, the employee handbook must be clearly understood by all the employees of the company (both local Chinese and foreigners).
That is why it is a good practice to write the employee handbook in both Chinese and English, to help especially foreign companies in China or Chinese companies with foreign employees. The Chinese version is especially important in case of labor disputes in the court.
As an employer, you should make sure that the employee handbook is not only a translation of the original handbook used in the company of your home country, but it should be a reflection of the Chinese market, in order to be compliant with the Chinese employment law and regulations.
The employee handbook should have a reasonable length, not too short and not too long, in order to let both the court and HR clearly understand it and asking more information in case they are needed.
It is important to include detailed information about employee’s remuneration, incentives, leaves, social insurance, etc.
The employer should also make sure that the employee handbook undergoes timely review.
This is because the handbook contains the implementation of China’s labor law and for this matter, a timely review is needed for changing circumstances within the scope of the law. It is recommended to review the employee handbook every 2 years.
An employee handbook can be very beneficial for you, as long as you know what you are doing. Most people think they can just make up their own handbook.
However, that can lead to the creation of many blank document files that contain no information at all. You don’t want any employees going into your store with no idea about the policies, procedures, and theft issues that are part of your company. Write everything down, and use an employee handbook template to ensure that everything is organized and easily readable.