Vote on labour contract law put off

By Zhu Zhe (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-12-27 06:50

The country's top legislature yesterday reviewed the second draft of the controversial labour contract law but decided not to vote on it.

The eight-chapter draft that details the establishment, revocation, revision, and termination of labour contracts will be the first such law of its kind if passed by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC).

However, disagreements between representatives of employees and employers have slowed the legislative process, and lawmakers decided not to vote on the draft at this session pending more amendments.

The current draft made key changes to the first draft submitted last December in clauses regarding probationary period, retrenchment and compensation for the termination of contracts.

It requires the probation period to be no more than one month for a one-year contract; and not exceed six months for a contract for at least three years.

Companies that lay off more than 20 employees at one time because of bankruptcy, production or management difficulties, or relocation for environmental protection, have to inform the trade union or the staff 30 days in advance.

The draft leaves the terms of compensation for contract termination to be set by State Council regulations. Should there be an agreement between the employer and senior staff on the period the employee cannot work for competitors after leaving, it cannot be more than two years, the draft says.

Tian Chengping, minister of labour and social security, said during the draft's first reading that the existing labour contract system, set up in line with the Labour Law enacted in 1994, requires an update following dramatic changes in the labour market.

A lack of minimal labour protection and the imbalance between labour supply and demand have resulted in severe infringements of workers' rights. Millions of foreign and domestic employers arbitrarily set wages and working hours, as well as working and living conditions.

The NPC received 191,849 public suggestions in one month after the draft was published in March for consultation. Only the Constitution, in 1954, received more.

Some employers, fearing rising labour costs, strongly oppose the bill.

However, Xin Chunying, deputy director of NPC's Law Committee, yesterday said members agree that it is urgent to have a contract law to protect workers' rights as it is a matter of public interest and social stability.

Top China News  
Today's Top News  
Most Commented/Read Stories in 48 Hours