System of Working Hours in China | Back in the spotlight due to Covid-19russonxiao
The working hours system has a significant impact on employees. For employers, it also plays an important role in reducing employment costs and risks. With the major impact of the Covid-19 epidemic since 2020 onwards, the economic situation is increasingly declining and employers are having to face a reduction in expenditure in order to tide them over. Today, the business situation has recovered but the epidemic continues, it is worth attention to understand the system of working hours in case any unexpecting situation is coming.
Criteria of working hours system
Criterias of working hours system are generally divided into two categories, namely “standard working hours system” and “special working hours system“. Under the special working hours system, there is a division into the comprehensive working hours system, the irregular working hours system and the piecework working hours system.
A. Standard Working Hours System
The standard working hours system is the most basic system of working hours and is the most widely used system of working time. The State Council’s regulations on working hours stipulate that “a working hour system in which employees shall work 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week on average”. Moreover, employers shall ensure that workers have at least one day off per week.
- Annual working days: 365 days (-) Weekends (-) Legal holidays
- Quarterly working days: annual working days (¸) 4
- Monthly working days: annual working days (¸) 12
- Calculation of the number of hours worked: Take the working days of the month, quarter and year and multiply them by the 8 hours of the day.
B. Special Working Hours System
In addition to the standard working hours system, according to the relevant state regulations, if the standard working hours system cannot be implemented due to the limitations of the nature of work or production characteristics, the employer is allowed to implement a special working hours system.
However, the special working hours system, including the comprehensive working hours system and the irregular working hours system, requires application for administrative permission and approval by the labor administration department before it can be implemented.
1 – Comprehensive
The comprehensive working hours system requires the calculation of working hours on a weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly basis due to the special nature of the work, or due to seasonal and natural conditions. For example, drivers for long-haul freight, aircrew for international flights, etc. This is why it is necessary to balance working hours and rest periods with shift changes.
- The introduction of this system of working hours requires the consent of the workers, the work is carried out in a manner that safeguards the health of the workers and the approval of the labor authorities.
- The total number of working hours accounted for in a working cycle cannot exceed the standard working hours system of 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week.
- Any time worked in excess of the legal standard hours per cycle is considered overtime work.
2 – Irregular
The irregular working system refers to the working hours system where, because of production characteristics, special needs of the work or the duties of the worker, it is not possible to measure working hours according to standard working hours and it is necessary to adopt flexible operations to complete the work with indeterminate working hours. For example, many employers choose to calculate working hours in this way for senior management, field staff, some on-call staff, etc., when their work cannot be measured by standard working hours.
- There is no requirement for fixed working hours and remuneration is based on workload only.
- The approval procedure is the same as that for the comprehensive working hours system.
- If the procedure for establishing the irregular working hours system is legal, the employer is not required to pay overtime to the workers in general, except when the employer arranges for the workers to work on holidays, which is considered overtime work.
3 – Piecework
It is a way of working in which workers are remunerated for a certain number of qualified products produced or a certain number of works done under certain production technology and production organization conditions.
For workers who work on a piecework basis, the employer shall reasonably determine their labor quotas and piecework remuneration standards in accordance with the standard working hours system. With the piecework system, the employer still has the possibility of paying overtime to the workers. The piecework system does not require the approval of the labor administration department, as long as the employer and the workers agree on it.
In summary, each working hours system has its own characteristics. On an institutional level, if the employer may need to implement special working hours for its employees in the future, it is recommended to agree in advance in the employment contract that the special working hours system can be implemented directly after administrative approval. At the level of implementation, it is recommended that the characteristics of the different working hours systems be understood in depth and that they be implemented in strict accordance with the employees’ working hours system.
- «Labor Law of the People’s Republic of China»
- «Regulations of the State Council of the PRC on the Working Hours of Employees» [Decree No.174]
- The former Ministry of Labor’s «Measure for the Approval of Enterprises’ Implementation of the Irregular Work System and the Comprehensive Calculation of Working Hours» [Laobufa 1994 No.503]
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