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80% of private firms violate employee rights
By Liu Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-12-29 06:43

Four in five private enterprises in China have not signed job contracts with their employees that's the startling result of a survey by the country's top legislators.

"The legal rights of employees were frequently violated in more than 80 per cent of private companies, specially in real estate, light industry, clothing and catering," He Luli, vice-chairwoman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), said yesterday at the ongoing session.

According to the Labour Law that came into effect in 1995, a contract between employer and employee is mandatory. Administrative labour departments are authorized to force dithering employers to sign contracts with employees if the delay is intentional.

The lack of contracts leaves workers in a legal limbo: they cannot seek termination benefits should they be asked to leave; they have no right to medical treatment even in case of a workplace accident; and employers do not contribute their share to the pension fund.

But the tight employment market has forced job seekers to take up whatever work is available; and requirements in the Labour Law for written contracts, timely payment and compensation are often ignored in practice.

The number of unemployed urban Chinese is set to hit 17 million next year before coming down in the next five years, a top economic planner said recently.

Considering a pool of 150 million surplus workers in the countryside, the job market in China is "complicated and grave," said Du Ying, vice-minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, last month.

The NPC Standing Committee inspected the implementation of the Labour Law in seven provinces and municipalities and surveyed 2,255 companies in the past few months.
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