[JURIST] The Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress [official website] adopted a new labor contract law Friday, passing reforms intended to improve workers' rights by formalizing standards in labor contracts, rights of temporary workers, and severance pay privileges. The law, which will enter effect on January 1, 2008, also codifies administrative and criminal penalties for employers and government officials who either abuse or neglect their duties to laborers.
The law was passed amid the recent revelation that labor officials failed to report [JURIST report] the enslavement of hundreds of people at various brick kilns in the Shanxi and Henan provinces in central China [JURIST news archive]. Criminal charges have been brought against government officials, and a State Council conference, chaired by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao [BBC profile] has said that those who have illegally employed children or subjected workers to slave conditions will be severely punished. AP has more.