On 28 April 2012, the Regulations on Special Labor Protection of Female Employees (the "New Regulations") were released by the PRC State Council. They became effective on the same day and replaced the old Regulations on Labor Protection of Female Employees (the "Old Regulations") issued twenty four years ago.
Compared to the Old Regulations, the maternity leave of the female employees has increased from 90 days to 98 days. This is in compliance with the provisions of 14 weeks provided in the Maternity protection Convention of the International Labor Organization.
The New Regulations also divided the work prohibited for female employees into four categories, i.e. work prohibited for all female employees, work prohibited for female employees during menstruation, work prohibited for female employees who are pregnant and work prohibited for female employees during their nursing period.
The New Regulations introduced for the first time the administrative sanctions for violation of the rights of female employees. For example, if the employer, in breach of the law, requires a female employee who is pregnant or nursing to work overtime or at night, a fine from RMB 1,000 to RMB 5,000 can be imposed on the employer for each female concerned. If the employer requires a female employee who is pregnant or nursing to perform work falling into the prohibition category, the employer can be subject to a fine from RMB 50,000 to RMB 300,000. In serious cases, the relevant business of the employer can be shut down by the authorities.
Finally, the New Regulations impose upon the employer the obligation to protect female employees against sexual harassment and to stop any sexual harassment at the work place. It is the first time that PRC law imposes such responsibilities on the employer.
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The original publication date for this article was 21/05/2012.