I am three-quarters of the way through the book, Understanding Labor and Employment Law in China, by Ronald C. Brown. Brown is a Professor of Law and the Chair of the Pacific-Asian Legal Studies Committee at University of Hawaii Law School and can confidently state that it is a great book.
But it is not for those seeking merely a light dusting on Chinese labor and employment law. Not at all.
It is a 332 page exposition on the current state of China’s labor laws. It was just published so it is quite current. Its appendix consists of translations of the key Chinese laws relating to labor and employment.
Who should read this book?
- Academics interested in China labor laws? Check.
- Private practice lawyers seeking a deeper understanding of China’s labor laws? Check.
- In-house lawyers wanting to better understand China’s labor laws? Check.
- HR personnel with businesses operating in China? Probably check.
- Lawyers who actually practice labor law in China? Maybe check.
- The general businessperson doing business in China? Maybe check.
Let me explain my maybes.
Any lawyer actually doing employment law in China must be able to speak and read Mandarin fluently and so that lawyer probably does not have much need for a book like this, written in English. If you are going to be writing employee manuals and employment contracts in China or giving advice regarding China’s labor laws, you absolutely must know how to read and write Mandarin. You have to know how to read it because so many of the employment laws are local, rather than national, and because there is no substitute for reading a law in its original language. You have to know how to write in Mandarin because your employee manuals and your employment contracts pretty much have to be in Chinese if you have any Chinese employees.
This book is probably too intense, too thorough, too long, too deep, and too complicated for the typical businessperson seeking a general background on Chinese employment law and I do not think it was ever intended for that purpose.
But if you are looking for an English language book that really details China’s labor and employment laws, this is the book.