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Guideline for Comprehensive Use of Rest Days and Applying for Flexible Work Schedule During COVID-19 Outbreak in China

2020-04-02


 
Authors: Ellen Zhong, Summer Sun
 
At present, the COVID-19 epidemic in China delayed the scheduled resumption of work and effected the economic a lot. Accordingly, many targeted policies have been introduced at the national and local levels to reduce the burden on enterprises and protect the rights of employees. Among them, the policy of ‘allowing enterprises to comprehensively use of rest days in this calendar year 2020’ was issued by Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen and the policy on Notification and Commitment method (Trial) to apply for Flexible Working Schedule was introduced by Beijing Economic-Technological Development Area.
 
Comprehensive Adjustment of Rest Days in the Calendar Year 2020
Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and other regions have clearly stated in their regional policies that ‘Allow companies to comprehensively adjust the rest days of this year legally.’ This policy allows the enterprises to conduct as follows:
 
During the delayed work time, the enterprise is allowed to arrange employees to rest in a concentrated period of time and pay in full. After the epidemic situation is stable or over, the employees shall be arranged to make up for work time on rest days, that is, they will rest first and make up for work later. For example, in February, due to the epidemic situation, an enterprise arranged for employees to take a rest for 15 working days from 3rd February to 23rd February. After resumption of work, the enterprise is allowed to arrange employees work continuously or cumulatively for 15 weeks and worked 6 days a week to compensate for the 15 days of early rests in February and still pay in full with no OT payment.
 
The above policy entitles the enterprise to conduct as comprehensive working schedule (one kind of Flexible Work Schedule) without approval of Flexible Work Schedule.
 
Notification and Commitment Method (Trial) to Apply for Flexible Working Schedule in Beijing Economic-Technological Development Area
On 5th February 2020, the Beijing Economic-Technological Development Area issued a Notice (Trial) regarding Notification and Commitment Method for applying for Flexible Work Schedule, which will be fully implemented within the aforesaid area, aiming to optimize the traditional approval mode.
 
Compared with the traditional approval mode, the Notification and Commitment Method means while getting the notification, the enterprise can apply by commitment while applying for Flexible Work Schedule and all the processes can be processed on line. The Notification and Commitment Method has three characteristics:
 
  Reduce the processing time. The time for examination and approval has been shortened from ten working days to ‘instant processing’.
  Fewer documents are required. Approval materials are subject to a notification and commitment system. Incomplete materials when applying for an enterprise can be completed through post-submission or on-site inspection. Certificates and licenses are no longer required to be provided by the enterprise when they are verified in the system.
  Simplicity of the process. Change the original three-level approval to one level.
 
During the epidemic period, the workload is not as the same as normal, however, the full wages of employees shall also be paid by enterprises as agreed in the labor contract and the Flexible Work Schedule will benefit the company a lot to avoid the OT payment after COVID-19 and also allows the enterprise to arrange work flexibly.
 
Comments:
  The Labor Law stipulates that the right to rest of employees must be guaranteed, and that the company must ensure that workers have at least one day of rest per week when using comprehensive adjustments of rest days.
  The Labor Law stipulates that employers may extend working hours after consultation with labor unions and workers due to production and operation needs. Therefore, if employees are scheduled to take rests and then make up shifts, enterprises should make such arrangements only after consultation with the trade unions and employees.
  Allowing enterprises to make comprehensive adjustments to use the rest days of the year is a temporary policy for this special period. At the same time, the policy proposes that comprehensively adjust the rest days in this calendar year 2020.
  The Notification and Commitment Method for applying for Flexible Working Schedule in Beijing Economic-Technological Development Area is a trial policy and possibly will be amended or abolished.
  The enterprises are recommended to take full use of the beneficial policy to counter the temporary hard time. 
 

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