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China regulations clarify Labor Contract Law

[JURIST] The State Council of China [official website, in English] on Thursday issued regulations implementing ambiguous provisions of the Labor Contract Law [backgrounder] that took effect [JURIST report] at the beginning of this year. Among other clarifications, the regulations provide that contracts without a termination date do not have a lifetime term, instead specifying the circumstances in which employers or employees may unilaterally terminate. Although the law is viewed as a major advancement [IHT report] for employee rights, employers have complained that it has increased operational costs. The law requires workers to have written employment contracts, establishes a right to severance pay, sets a minimum wage and limits the amount of overtime that companies may ask employees to perform. Draft regulations were released [China Law & Practice report] in May. Following public comment, the final regulations were approved September 3 by the State Council, which is China's Cabinet. Xinhua has more.

The law was adopted [JURIST report] last June by the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress [official website] amid revelations that labor officials had failed to report [JURIST report] the enslavement of hundreds of people at brick kilns in Shanxi and Henan provinces. Criminal charges were brought against government officials, and a State Council conference chaired by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao [BBC profile] said that those who had enslaved workers or illegally employed children would be severely punished.

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