China's enhanced protection for women: What it means for employers

Changes would require 'detailed management measures to prevent sexual harassment at the workplace,' says law firm

China's enhanced protection for women: What it means for employers

After its passing in October last year, China's new law to women's protections against gender discrimination and sexual harassment has taken effect this year.

China's Law on Protection of Rights and Interests of Women, which was revised for the first time in nearly 30 years, says that the "state shall take necessary measures to promote gender equality, eliminate discrimination of all forms against women, and prohibit exclusion or restriction of women's legitimate rights and interests," Xinhua News Agency reported.

The law aims to prevent sexual harassment and gender discrimination in the workplace, including the process of job recruitment, admission, promotion, and dismissal.

What it means for employers

This means that employers would need to carry out necessary changes in their workplace in order to be compliant with the law's requirements. This includes developing "detailed management measures to prevent sexual harassment at the workplace," according to law firm CMS China.

These measures should include among others, formulating rules and regulations prohibiting sexual harassment, carrying out education and training activities to prevent and stop harassment, and establishing investigation and handling procedures that are timely and protects the privacy of the people concerned, CMS China said.

In eliminating gender discrimination, the law outlines rules on fair recruitment that include prohibiting the act of only hiring males or specifying that male candidates are preferred.

Employers are also prohibited from asking about the marriage and childbirth status of a female job applicant, according to CMS China. They are also banned from restricting female employees on marriage or childbirth.

Equality should also be observed in other periods of employment, such as promotions, evaluations, termination of employment contracts, among others.

Employers are mandated to set up health examinations for female employees for gynaecological diseases and breast diseases, among others, according to CMS China.

Pregnancy and maternity periods are also not reason for employers to reduce female employees' salaries and benefits, nor to terminate them, explained CMS China.

Violating employers will be interviewed by the labour administrative authority, as well as the trade union and the women's federation. They will also be ordered to correct their actions within a specified time limit.

Employers who are found reducing their female employees' welfare benefits, imposing their restrictions on promotion and rank rise, and terminating them as a result of pregnancy and maternity may face fines between RMB10,000 (USD1,431) and RMB50,000 (USD7,157).

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