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How to terminate an employment relationship in China

In China, there is no concept of “at will” employment as in some other countries. While employees generally may resign upon 30 days’ prior notice to the employer (they may be restricted from resigning in certain cases), employers in China are permitted to unilaterally terminate employees only in accordance with circumstances stipulated in relevant laws and regulations. There are many foreign enterprize in major China cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Qingdao, Nanjing, Wuhan, Changsha. Fortunately, we have Beijing employment lawyer, Shanghai employment lawyer to help with employment issues.

For example, an employer may terminate an employee without notice or severance during the probationary period where the employee fails to satisfy the terms of recruitment; where the employee seriously violates labor discipline or the employer’s rules or regulations, or is seriously derelict of duty, or engages in graft resulting in major harm to the employer’s interests; or where the employee is prosecuted according to law.

In most other permitted circumstances of termination (such as where an employee is incompetent and remains incompetent after training or assignment to another post), including cases of a mutual employer-employee agreement to terminate employment, 30 days’ prior notice and severance are required. Severance generally is calculated as the payment of the equivalent of one month’s total wages (including basic wages and other benefits such as bonuses) for each year of service, but severance calculations may be modified by local rules.

In some locations, payment in lieu of notice may be permissible. Employers are prohibited from unilateral termination of employees with occupational diseases or injuries, sick or injured employees (not occupationrelated), and female employees who are pregnant, on maternity leave or nursing, unless the employee is terminated during probation or for cause. However, it may be possible for an employer and such employees to reach a settlement regarding mutual termination.

Under the Labor Union Law as revised in 2001, an employer must give notice to the labor union (if any) prior to any unilateral termination by the employer, regardless of the particular grounds for the unilateral termination. The labor union has a right to challenge the termination.

We also have Tianjin employment lawyer, Qingdao employment lawyer, Nanjing employment lawyer, Wuhan employment lawyer, Changsha employment lawyer ready to help you with your labor and employment issues in China.


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I am a licensed China lawyer. Most clients are foreign nationals and companies. China Lawyer Blog have associates in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Suzhou, Nanjing, Qingdao, Fuzhou, Hainan, Hefei, Wuhan, Xian, Changsha, Xiamen and Hangzhou. Learn More

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China Lawyer BLog AuthorPeter Zhu, an experienced China attorney licensed to practice law for more than ten years, the author of this China Lawyer blog, welcomes any enquiry or consultation related to Chinese law.