From Contracts to Compliance? An Early Look at Implementation Under China's New Labor Legislation
Virginia E. Harper Ho
University of Kansas - School of Law
September 20, 2009
Columbia Journal of Asian Law, Vol. 23, No. 1, p. 34, 2009
In 2008, three new primary labor laws took effect in China that together represent the first major retooling of its labor legislation in fifteen years: the Labor Contract Law, the Labor Dispute Mediation and Arbitration Law, and the Employment Promotion Law. The new laws have attracted widespread attention from the international business community, labor advocates, and observers of China's ongoing legal reforms. However, whether the legislation can overcome and resolve fundamental implementation barriers remains largely the subject of speculation and debate. This Article offers a preliminary answer.
Drawing on the literature on corporate compliance and regulatory policy, it first describes the institutions and processes for enforcing Chinese labor law and identifies current implementation challenges. It then introduces the three laws and considers the extent to which, taken together, they are likely to motivate broader employer compliance in light of these constraints. Using implementation of the Labor Contract Law’s written contract requirement as a case study, the Article then presents the results of field research in Guangdong Province as an early indication of the laws' impact on public policy priorities, employer practices, and legal mobilization. It concludes by commenting on the power and limits of regulatory change and suggesting directions for further reforms that might motivate a sustained transformation of workplace practices.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 75
Keywords: China, labor law, implementation, compliance, employer, employee, worker, labor contract, labor inspection, union, mobilization
Date posted: July 11, 2009 ; Last revised: August 14, 2010