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What is wrongful or unfair dismissal in China and how to avoid it

Under Chinese Law, any labour dispute, including those of unfair dismissal must initially go to Arbitration. An application for arbitration must be filed within 60 days of the dispute. If either party wants to challenge the arbitral award granted, they must file a lawsuit within 15 days of receipt of the award.

For most foreigners in China, especially newcomers, teaching at a language school is the easiest job to find. It makes money, takes care of their visa and can be a stepping stone to better work.Twenty-four-year-old Leroy Philpotts followed the familiar pattern. The Dutchman, who came to Beijing two years ago, went to work as a trainer at Beijing Wall Street English Training Center last year.


But last month, Philpotts sued the center, saying it fired him without just cause. Philpotts accused the company of breaching the new Law of China on Employment Contracts; Beijing Wall Street insists his dismissal was lawful.

The Beijing Municipal Arbitration Committee for Labor Disputes has accepted the case and is expected to hear it this July.

Philpotts began teaching at Wall Street English last June, under a one-year work contract.An increasing number of Chinese people want to learn to speak English, which created a huge market for language training schools.

At the end of a workday in January, he said his manager Jon Clayton called him over for a talk. It was then he found out the company was firing him.“From the talk, it seemed like being late for the class preparation hour was one of the biggest reasons he decided to let me go,” Philpotts said in an email to Beijing Today.

He said Wall Street English teachers are required to come in an hour before class to make preparations, what they call “service hour.” Once, he said, he was late for 45 minutes because of an erroneous schedule released online. He said such confusion in the schedule d already occurred a few times before.ilpotts said Clayton also cited a complaint from a student: A woman from the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region said he once uttered a Turkish word derogatory to students.

Philpotts, who can speak several languages, admitted he did talk to the student in Turkish, which is similar to the Uyghur language. But he said he was not aware he used an offensive word.He described as “weak” the reasons given for firing him.

Unfair dismissal & constructive dismissal can sometimes occur when a bad boss is at work. These dismissals can become messy and involve an Employment Law solicitor or an Employment Tribunal - though fortunately they aren’t that common. However dealing with a difficult boss at some stage of your career is almost certain. When this occurs you may find the easiest solution is to start looking for another job but in the meantime if you are worried that you are being unfairly treated and become a victim of unfair dismissal, here are some tips which can help you.

1. Stay Positive. It’s easy when dealing with the negative influence of a bad boss to find yourself with a negative attitude as well. This often makes your work even less enjoyable. Don’t allow someone else’s mood to affect yours, keep a positive attitude and a difficult boss will become much easier to deal with.

2. Acknowledge there is a problem with friends and family. It’s far too easy to keep feelings bottled up inside. If you are being treated unfairly and having trouble at work, you shouldn’t feel guilty about sharing it with your friends and family; there’s nothing more therapeutic than a good moan. Your close family and friends’ support can help you through the most difficult of days at work.

3. Discuss rather than confront. If your boss has given you some unnecessary or unfair criticism it’s easy to get drawn into an argument. Often this is just the kind of confrontation and feeling of control that bad managers rely on. You can avoid giving them satisfaction by avoiding clashes and discussing problems rather than progressing into an argument.

4. Take time off if it’s affecting your health. Sometimes is easy to forget that your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Too many people struggle through stress and anxiety only to end up depressed and in need of long periods away from work. If you find yourself feeling stressed as a result of unfair treatment at work, take some time off. You would if you had a cold and you should if your boss is affecting your health. Remember, in these cases it is important to always consult your doctor. Stress at work is considered quite seriously and if you needed to bring a case at an Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal or constructive dismissal then the evidence of your doctor might be useful.

5. Avoid going to your Boss’s Boss. The chances are they will support your manager and this could result in the problem worsening. It is much more productive to approach someone senior at your company but removed from your direct chain of command. They’ll usually be more objective and less caught up in the personalities at play.

6. If they attack you irrationally, get them to explain. If someone is behaving irrationally or unfairly the best way to deal with them is to ask them to calmly explain themselves. This may either help them understand the flaws in their arguments or perhaps gain some understanding of your point of view.

7. Document any situations which you think are unfair. If at some later stage you do actually need to pursue a case of unfair dismissal or constructive dismissal, then you may find it useful to have a record of the occasions when you were unfairly treated.

8. Talk with your friends and colleagues at work. Try to find out if they are receiving the same treatment and if they agree that it is unfair. It is useful to know if you are being singled out or if your boss is behaving unfairly to everyone. It may also be useful to have witnesses if you needed to bring a case of unfair or constructive dismissal at an Employment Tribunal.

9. Avoid reacting to criticism. If you’re emotionally on-edge because you have to deal with a difficult boss, you can over-react to criticism which you would find perfectly acceptable in normal circumstances. So don’t let criticism get you down, try to listen, react positively and get on with your job as normal.

10. Leave work at work. A hard piece of advice to follow. Remember your employer only pays you for the hours you work. They don’t own your free time, and as such, should have no control over it. When you walk out of work try to leave all the problems there and not take them home with you.

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