China employment lawyer

China employment law is technical and local and nearly all foreign companies get it wrong. See China Employment Law: Local and Not So Simple. It is one of the most consistent and expensive problem areas for foreign companies doing business in China and it has become a massive growth area for our law firm. More than ever, China wants harmony. And don’t forget, China is a communist country. Combine these two and you have a country that badly wants to keep its workers happy, especially as compared to your run of the mill foreign company that competes with Chinese businesses.

If you have employees in China or you are thinking of having employees in China you should have at least a basic knowledge of what you must or should be doing as an employer in China. This book, for the low low price of less than $20 in paper form, gives that to you. It is also sold as a Kindle version for $9.99, but you really should spend the extra $10 to be able to have it in physical form in your office so that you and others can consult it easily whenever necessary. You can get this book at Amazon or at Barnes & Noble.

Disclaimer: This book is written by our lead China employment lawyer, Grace Yang and we get a cut of every sale.

Our typical attorney-client interaction on China employment laws usually goes something like this:

  1. Foreign employer company contacts one of the China lawyers at my firm after having terminated an employee and after that employee has either sued or threatened to sue, oftentimes over a technical legal violation by the foreign employer.
  2. One of our China employment lawyers looks at the case and determines the termination did not comply with China (or perhaps local) laws and the employee will almost certainly prevail in his or her claim. See China Employee Terminations: Don’t Get Lazy.
  3. We explain the above to the foreign company employer and we learn the company is violating China’s employment laws in various ways with all of its employees.
  4. The foreign company employer wants its violations excised.
  5. We then conduct an employer audit to determine what other employment problems need fixing. See China Employment Compliance and Audits: THE New Big Thing.
  6. The employer audit invariably generates a laundry list of employment problems that need fixing.
  7. We fix the employment law problems, one by one.

Nearly all foreign company employers have employment problems in China because Chinese employment laws are so complicated and so localized, because China is so tough on foreign employers, and because pretty much every employee in all of China fully understands the leverage they hold over the foreign employers.

The typical small to mid-sized foreign company goes into China with maybe one or two foreign employees and one or two Chinese employees, none of whom know anything about Chinese employment laws (on the local, regional or national level) and all of whom are focused on getting the business off the ground more than on complying with the letter of the multiple sets of China employment laws. On top of this, at this time, they are usually a tight-knit group of founding employees who view themselves as much as founders as they do employees and who all get along with each other and view their futures with the company as bright. But as the company grows, nobody realizes how important it is to grow out the company’s employment compliance as the company expands and even if they did, nobody in-house knows how to do it. And why spend money trying to complying with obscure employment laws when there has never been a problem with those laws?

But then a problem arises and a China employment attorney at my firm gets called — usually by someone high up in the U.S. or in Europe or in Australia. This person is often the head of HR, the CFO or the CEO, or the GC and they are trying to find out what is going on with HR in China and they are getting only vague or nonsensical answers from their people in China and they are starting to worry. They see the potential for big problems down the road and they want to nip those in the bud now.

Foreign companies with employees in China need to get on top of their China employment situations and stay there. China Employer audits are the way to go in most situations, but in the meantime and as a supplement, someone at your company needs to understand China employment law basics. Someone at your company needs to know enough to be able to spot your company’s China employment law issues before they escalate.

The China Employment Law Guide is the book for that and you really really really should buy it and put it on your shelf. And when I say put it on your shelf, I mean you should buy the softcover version (not the Kindle version) so you can literally put it on your shelf. You actually should get a couple copies and give them to anyone in your company who manages your China employees or plays any role in their hiring or their firing or their vacation time or…. This book is meant to be used for background and for reference and as a decision-making guide.

Just a little bit about Grace Yang, its author. Grace grew up in Beijing and excelled at and graduated from China’s best law school there — Beijing University. She then came to the United States and graduated from the University of Washington Law School where she again excelled. Grace is our firm’s lead China employment and labor lawyer and she is the lawyer at our firm to whom everyone else goes for China employment and labor law questions. Grace is a licensed U.S. lawyer (licensed in Washington and New York) and she splits her time between Seattle and Beijing.

Anyway, did I tell you that you should buy the book? Of course I did and you should. What though will you learn from this book? Among other things, you will learn the following:

  • The basics of China’s employment law rules
  • How to draft an employment agreement that works for your China locale
  • How to draft China employer rules and regulations (aka employee handbooks)
  • The other agreements you should consider for your China employees
  • Frequently contested issues, such as overtime, vacation days, commission payments, and leaves of absence
  • Employee terminations
  • HR audits
  • Most importantly, how to keep your company out of trouble

So just click here and buy the book.



You did do that right?

Dan Harris

I am a founder of Harris Bricken, an international law firm with lawyers in Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, China and Spain.

I mostly represent companies doing business in emerging market countries. It has taken me many years to build my network and it takes constant communication and travel to maintain it. My work has been as varied as securing the release of two improperly held helicopters in Papua New Guinea, setting up a legal framework to move slag from Canada to Poland’s interior, overseeing hundreds of litigation and arbitration matters in Korea, helping someone avoid terrorism charges in Japan, and seizing fish product in China to collect on a debt.

I was named as one of only three Washington State Amazing Lawyers in International Law, I am AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory (its highest rating), I am rated 10.0 by (its highest rating), and I am a SuperLawyer.

I am a frequent writer and public speaker on doing business in Asia and I constantly travel between the United States and Asia. I most commonly speak on China law issues and I am the lead writer of the award winning China Law Blog ( Forbes Magazine, Fortune Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily, Business Week, The National Law Journal, The Washington Post, The ABA Journal, The Economist, Newsweek, NPR, The New York Times and Inside Counsel have all interviewed me regarding various aspects of my international law practice.

I am licensed in Washington, Illinois, and Alaska.

In tandem with the international law team at my firm, I focus on setting up/registering companies overseas (via WFOEs, Rep Offices or Joint Ventures), drafting international contracts (NDAs, OEM Agreements, licensing, distribution, etc.), protecting IP (trademarks, trade secrets, copyrights and patents), and overseeing M&A transactions.