The central government is drafting a regulation on wage safeguards for workers, raising further concerns about investment sentiment on the mainland. In a report to the National People's Congress Standing Committee, Labour and Social Security Vice-Minister Sun Baoshu said his administration was working on draft wage provisions to set up a mechanism to ensure reasonable wage increases. Mr Sun did not give a time frame for the wage provision, but if passed, it was likely to heighten concerns among business owners about rising employee costs ahead of the enactment of the new Labour Contract Law on Tuesday. The contract law, which is widely seen as a sharp departure from the mainland's pro-business labour policy of more than two decades, has triggered fears among business executives. Owners of small companies are particularly concerned that they might be driven out of business. Zhejiang University lecturer He Wentong said the Labour Contract Law and the draft wage regulation were aimed at balancing the interests of employers and employees in the central government's push for development and social harmony. Professor He said wage adjustments should be decided by the market, 'but a government role in it is still a positive move because it can steer the human resources market in a healthy direction'. Professor He said some business owners would have more say than their employees, while other employers would have difficulties once the regulation and contract law were in place. He said employers would probably be more cautious in hiring due to rising costs and that could lead to job losses but the problems could be solved through fine-tuning of the rules. The Procuratorate Daily quoted Mr Sun as saying the regulation would also help deal with back pay disputes, particularly for migrant workers. Wei Wei , who founded a hotline for migrant workers in Beijing, Shenzhen and Shenyang , said he agreed that the market should be left to decide wage increases. 'But such wage guidelines would send a signal to the wide community to address wage-related problems,' Mr Wei said. He said his office had helped recover 16 million yuan in back pay in the three cities this year for 5,000 unskilled migrant workers who held jobs at unlicensed businesses. He said problems with back pay were still rampant although workers were more aware of their rights. Mr Wei also said he expected to see more migrant workers come forward to claim their back pay next month because they needed to take their wages home for the Lunar New Year.