Coronavirus Q&A: HR Issues & Relief Measures for Businesses
Posted on February 11th.
Given the fluid situation in China we are publishing weekly updates such as this one.
Today, we are pleased to announce that Fiducia is back to work. Our Beijing and Shanghai offices reopened on February 10th and our Shenzhen team is scheduled to resume work on February 17th.
Below are some of the most common questions we get. For more detailed information and recommendations, read our regularly updated article or get in touch with us here.
1. What is the official re-opening date for companies in mainland China?
February 10th for most provinces, but there are variations by industry and location. Harder-hit regions have set later official re-opening dates, e.g. Hubei on February 14th and Wenzhou on the 18th. In other cities such as Kunshan, Shenzhen, and Taicang, companies (especially manufacturers) must submit applications to reopen to local authorities.
2. Why are some of my suppliers in China remaining closed beyond this date?
Some factories have chosen to reopen until next week (between February 17th-21st) as a precaution. With authorities on high alert, even a suspected case of infection in their facilities could lead to a longer shutdown. Others are reopening gradually because logistics, migrant workers, and component/raw material suppliers continue to face challenges.
3. Can I ask employees to work from home before officially re-opening?
You can negotiate directly with your employees, case by case, taking into account that if this was/is during government-mandated closures, you should grant them paid special leave or pay overtime salaries if they work.
4. Should I allow staff to continue working from home after re-opening?
If you are complying with local guidelines and taking adequate precautions to guarantee a safe workplace, returning to the office should not be discouraged. But do continue to offer employees as much flexibility as they require to ensure their and their family’s well-being.
5. In the unfortunate event of an employee getting diagnosed with coronavirus or quarantined by a hospital, how should we as employers handle his/her salary?
Regulations vary by region. For example, an infected employee in Shanghai has the right to his/her full salary during treatment, while Beijing mandates a reduced paid sick leave salary (80% of the average social salary).
6. Are there any bright spots in the current situation?
Many clients feel reassured by the helpfulness displayed by local authorities. Some cities have already introduced relief measures for businesses, and we believe more will follow. They vary at the city and district level, so get in touch with our team to know more about the opportunities available to your business. Here are a few examples from Beijing:
- Rewards for avoiding layoffs: companies can get a 50% refund on the unemployment insurance premiums paid the previous year.
- Deferred social security payments: SMEs that meet certain criteria can delay social insurance payments by 2-6 months depending on the industry.
- Lower rent: factories renting state-owned premises can apply for a two-month rent exemption (or a 50% rent deduction for offices).
- Deferred tax payments: SMEs facing epidemic-related difficulties can apply for a deferral of up to three-month.
Any questions you would like us to address in next week’s Coronavirus Q&A? Please send them over by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you need faster answers, our consultants in Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Shenzhen will be happy to schedule a call with you.