“It just goes to show you. It’s always something. If it’s not one thing, it’s another.” Roseanne Roseannadanna (Gildner Radner)
Now I know Roseanne Roseannadanna was never referring to China’s labor laws when she would say the above, but considering how frequently they change (especially lately) she should have been. China wants its labor laws to more closely correspond to its current economic situation and more closely jibe with a modern service economy and it is moving at full force to achieve that.
Last month, China’s Ministry of Education, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, State Administration of Work Safety, and Insurance Regulatory Commission jointly promulgated the Administrative Measures on Regulation of Hiring of Career School Student Interns (职业学校学生实习管理规定). This post highlights a few key aspects of these new Measures, with a focus on how they might impact you as a China employer.
The Measures apply to students enrolled at senior-high-level career schools and college-level career schools. China has three levels of career schools: junior high (for students who have completed elementary school), senior high (for students who have graduated from junior high) and college (for students who have completed their senior high school studies). Career schools are usually meant for technicians, production/service workers and elementary school teachers. These new Measures do not apply to normal universities. Many foreign businesses (including many of our law firm’s clients) hire in substantial numbers students from all levels of these schools.
Prior to commencement of an internship, an employer entity hiring a student intern must allow the school to conduct an onsite inspection to gather the following information: the entity’s basic information, the nature and content of the internship, the intern’s responsibilities, working and health conditions, and work safety measures. The hiring entity must limit the number of student interns at its workplace to no more than ten percent and the number of student interns at a particular position cannot exceed twenty percent of the total number of workers at similar positions. These restrictions apply only to student interns hired to work relatively independently (“working interns”) and do not apply to those who are merely shadowing.
The duration of the internship should usually be for six months. Before the internship can start, the school, the hiring entity and the student must enter into a three-party agreement, that should include, at minimum, the following:
- The parties’ basic information (generally include their legal names, contact addresses and phone numbers, and the ID number of the student)
- The term/duration of the internship
- The workplace
- The type of work the intern will be doing and the relevant requirements
- The hours and shifts of the internship
- Vacation and rest days
- Lodging and accommodation
- The intern’s compensation and method of payment
- Applicable provisions on labor protection, work safety and health conditions, and occupational hazard prevention measures
- Evaluation and examination of the intern
- Liability for breach of agreement
- Insurance for the intern and applicable provisions addressing accidents, injury, and death.
If the student is under 18, a legal guardian’s written consent is also required. If the student is under 16, you cannot hire him or her as a working intern. Even students over the age of 16 cannot be hired as working interns if the student is still in his or her freshman year at the school. Just as a bit of a side-note, we have lately been getting involved with video gaming contracts involving “employees” under the age of 18 and whether or not they are void due to the “employee” being a minor. Some of these contracts are for surprisingly (to us lawyers anyway) large amounts.
The provincial/municipal education administrative departments and labor bureaus are expected to come up with detailed implementing rules pursuant to these Measures. This means that as with almost all aspects of Chinese employment laws, you need to keep in mind that local rules will also apply.