Employees Well-being: Included in Work Safety Law

Maggie Jia

Maggie Jia is a partner and heads the firm’s Employment & Compliance practice. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the East China University of Political Science and Law in Shanghai (China) and a master’s degree in Economic Law from the Friedrich Schiller University Jena, in Germany. She passed the China Bar examination in 2012. Prior to joining DaWo Law Firm, she worked in Shanghai and gained experience at a well-known Chinese law firm and at De Wolf Law Firm Shanghai.

Recent amendments to China’s Work Safety Law will become effective on 1 September 2021.

The health and work safety provisions are stipulated in the Labor Law. According to Article 52 of the Law, an employer must establish a work safety and health system, strictly implement State rules and standards, educate employees with regards to work safety and health, prevent work accidents, and reduce occupational hazards.

The Work Safety Law further clarifies employers’ duties and obligations relative to work safety and specifies administrative and criminal penalties an employer and its responsible personnel may face for violating work safety laws.

The new amendments include new obligations, increase penalties for workplace safety violations and will enhance supervision on emerging industries. Notably, the amended law further tightens the responsibilities of the main person in charge and further strengthens government supervision. Other highlights of the amended Work Safety Law include:

Physical and psychological care
The amendments require employers to pay attention to the physical and psychological conditions and behavior of their employees, and to enhance psychological counseling and spiritual consolation for their employees. Companies also need to strictly implement job safety responsibilities and prevent accidents caused by abnormal behavior of an employee.

Public interest lawsuit
If a work safety violation causes a major accident, which infringes the national interests or social public interests, the Procuratorate may file a public interest lawsuit against the responsible company, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Civil Procedure Law and Administrative Procedure Law.

The revised law increases penalties for illegal activities. For certain, extremely serious violations, the revised Law increases the fines from 20 million RMB to 100 million RMB.
Furthermore, the Law establishes a new daily continuous penalty system. Companies who refuse to rectify any non-compliance after being fined may be additionally fined for each passing day the company does not change the situation.

Emerging sectors
The revised Law also adds provisions regarding workplace safety regulations in emerging sectors, such as the platform economy. Companies in emerging sectors must establish, improve and implement workplaces safety responsibilities for all their employees, such as a workplace safety system, education and training of employees and other relevant work safety obligations.
Furthermore, if a company is not covered by a specific supervising authority, the county level (or other higher level of government) may designate a government body to oversee work safety.

The amended Work Safety Law reflects further focus on the importance of work safety. With these amendments, it seems that China’s government aims to continue minimizing workplace safety incidents.

Companies should be aware of these highlighted changes and make sure they have a safe working environment to avoid any penalties.

If you have any questions about this subject, please feel free to contact us.