Know Your Rights: What Should You Get Paid Over Lockdown?

By Lars James Hamer, April 1, 2022

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Shanghai has started the second phase of its two-part lockdown as the city battles the worst breakout of COVID-19 since it was first discovered in 2020. 

In March, Shenzhen also went into a full-scale lockdown, closing down all but essential businesses and transport. 

Elsewhere in the country, residential communities, districts and cities are frequently put into temporary lockdown, and office buildings are closed for periods of time due to confirmed cases, close contacts or even just suspected cases. 

Lockdowns and quarantines will affect our normal working routine, but most companies have become adept at quickly switching to work from home mode when needed.

But what happens to your salary when you are unable to fulfill normal work duties due to lockdown or quarantine? 

Maybe you work for a select number of businesses that can’t actually operate remotely, or you’ve been transferred to an isolation center. Worse yet, maybe you're actually suffering from serious COVID-19 related symptoms.

In January 2020 rules and regulations to protect employers and employees during lockdown were written into Chinese labor law. 

In March, local governments in some cities and provinces updated the laws in light of recent local lockdown measures. 

The team at That's has provided a summary of the law in relation to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong province, as reported by China Briefing

Please note that labor law is subject to change and may be different depending on where you live. 

The below laws only apply to lockdowns and quarantines imposed by Chinese and local governments and not those imposed by residential communities for safety concerns.

Quarantine Due to Confirmed Cases, Suspected Cases, Close Contacts, Medical Observation and Other Quarantine Measures

Beijing

  • If the employee can work remotely, they shall be paid in full according to their attendance.

  • If the employee cannot work remotely, the employer should pay the fixed components of the salary (such as basic wage) but performance-related pay, bonuses, commission and other non-fixed components may not be paid. Any payment made to the employer under these conditions must not be lower than the city’s minimum wage.

  • An employee who undergoes isolation or medical observation because of their violation of epidemic prevention and control policy, will have their absence viewed as no pay personal leave. 

Shanghai 

  • The employee shall be considered as working normally and receive their normal pay. 

Guangdong

  • The employee shall be considered as working normally and receive their normal pay.

  • An employee who undergoes isolation or medical observation because of their violation of epidemic prevention and control policy, will have their absence viewed as no pay personal leave. 

Employees Who Need to Take a Break from Work for Medical Treatment, After Medical Observation, Isolation Treatment or After Other Emergency Measures Expire

Beijing 

  • Employees will be paid sick pay no less than 80% of the minimum wage.

Shanghai 

  • Sick pay will be paid from 40-100% of the employee’s salary depending on working years and length of leave. 

Guangdong

  • Sick pay of no less than 80% of the minimum wage or 60% of the employee’s full normal pay (decided by employer and stated in your contract). 

14-day Quarantine

Beijing 

  • If the employee can work remotely, they shall be paid in full according to their attendance.

  • If they cannot work remotely, the employer can:

    • Arrange for paid leave to be used, such as annual leave or welfare leave.

    • Employer to arrange with the employee to use the employee’s rest days for the year and then pay them accordingly.

    • Arrange with the employee to wait for work assignments and pay them no less than 70% of the minimum wage. 

  • If an employee leaves Beijing for personal reasons and has to quarantine for 14-days, their absence will be viewed as personal leave. 

Shanghai 

  • If the employee can work remotely, they shall be paid in full according to their attendance.

  • If the employee cannot work remotely, it will be arranged between both employer and employee to use paid leave (such as annual leave or welfare leave) and salaries will be paid accordingly. 

Guangdong 

  • If the employee can work remotely, they shall be paid in full according to their attendance.

  • If the employee cannot work remotely, it will be arranged between both employer and employee to use paid leave (such as annual leave or welfare leave) and salaries will be paid accordingly.

Employees Who Go to Another City for Personal Reasons and Cannot Return to Work Due to the Pandemic 

Beijing 

  • If the employee can work remotely, they shall be paid in full according to their attendance.

  • If the employee cannot work remotely, the absence will be viewed as personal leave. 

Shanghai 

  • If the employee can work remotely, they shall be paid in full according to their attendance.

  • If the employee cannot work remotely:

    • It will be arranged between both employer and employee to use paid leave (such as annual leave or welfare leave) and salaries will be paid accordingly.

    • If the employee cannot return to work after they have used their leave, the employer shall negotiate with the employee and pay them in reference to the payment principle of suspension of business. 

Guangdong 

  • If the employee can work remotely, they shall be paid in full according to their attendance.

  • If the employee cannot work remotely:

    • It will be arranged between both employer and employee to use paid leave (such as annual leave or welfare leave) and salaries will be paid accordingly.

    • If the employee cannot return to work after they have used their leave, the employer shall negotiate with the employee and pay them in reference to the payment principle of suspension of business. 

The Employer Suspends Business

Beijing

  • In the first payment cycle: normal pay will be issued.

  • In the second payment cycle: pay will be determined by negotiation and should be no less than 70% of the minimum wage. 

Shanghai

  • In the first payment cycle: normal pay will be issued.

  • In the second payment cycle: pay will be determined by negotiation and should be no less than the city’s minimum wage. 

Guangdong

  • In the first payment cycle: normal pay will be issued.

  • In the second payment cycle: pay will be determined by negotiation. If the employee works, they will receive no less than the city’s minimum wage. Otherwise, they should be paid no less than 80% of the city’s minimum wage. 

2+12 Epidemic and Control Measures (Shanghai Only)

  • For the first two days of quarantine, employees will receive full normal pay.

  • In the following 12 days of community control:

    • If employees can work remotely, they should be paid in full.

    • If the employee cannot work remotely, they can work on-site with self-protection or negotiate with the  employer to take paid annual leave, welfare leave or leave in lieu. 

If you have any queries about the type of quarantine you find yourself in, or would like to understand better the law in your area, you can call 12345 from your mobile to submit questions. 

The service is in Chinese, so if you don’t speak Mandarin, you may need to ask someone for help. 

For the full report on Chinese labor law in relation to COVID-19 quarantine, click here (Chinese).


[Cover image via Piqsels]

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