Labour law will affect foreign ventures

A MAINLAND legal consultant says foreign investors must examine their operations in China to ensure they do not violate the Labour Law, which will come into effect next year.

Leung Yee, head of the China department at Australian law firm Allens Arthur Robinson, said yesterday joint ventures and foreign-owned enterprises which violated the law would be subject to punishment after the legislation came into effect on January 1.

'Many Shenzhen factories definitely will be punished if they continue forcing employees to work long hours,' said Mr Yee.

Under the Labour Law, each worker should get one day off each week, work a maximum of eight hours a day and 44 hours a week.

Although the law would not state clearly the minimum penalty for each offence, Mr Yee said the ambiguity of the type of punishment would put increase the risk for employers.

'The court can impose any kind of punishment, ranging from fines to life sentences,' Mr Yee said at an Australian Chamber of Commerce seminar.

'Of course, a factory owner can take the risk to test whether a violation will be more expensive than losing an urgent order.'