China Announces New Penalties for Gender Discrimination in Recruitment Practices

China Announces New Penalties for Gender Discrimination in Recruitment Practices

Written by Hedley Lawson, Global Managing Partner, Aligned Growth Partners, LLC

On Feb. 21, 2019, nine government departments published a circular banning employers from discriminating against women in the workplace. While not all members of The Vision Council may have operations or certain contractual relationships (manufacturing, OEM, sales or recruitment agencies that work on behalf of a company) for those that do, it is important to know and fully comply with this new circular.

The circular emphasized existing legal protections against discrimination while strengthening fines against non-compliant employers and offering greater legal remedies for those negatively affected by discrimination.

The below points are outlined in the circular:

  • Applicable Legislation – The circular about Further Regulating Recruitment and Promoting Women's Employment Administrative Guidance (人力资源社会保障部、教育部等九部门关于进一 步规范招聘行为促进妇女就业的通知) was originally issued on Feb. 18, 2019 and was published on Feb. 21, 2019.
  • Affected Employers – The new rules on gender discrimination affect all employers recruiting employees in China.
  • Affected Employees – The new rules on gender discrimination affect all employees recruited in China.
  • Anti-discrimination Regulations – The circular emphasized several points regarding already-existing legal protection for women in the workplace, while also emphasizing new penalties against discriminatory actions. The Circular emphasized that employers are required to not discriminate against hiring women for employment. In particular, employers or headhunters cannot refuse to hire qualified female applicants or invoke prohibitions against them to have children. Employers cannot ask job candidates questions related to their marital status, age or family. In addition, they cannot have candidates take pregnancy tests to secure employment.
  • Penalties – If employers or recruitment agencies post ads violating regulations on gender discrimination they could face administrative fines from CNY 10,000 to CNY 50,000. They could also face public "name and shame" tactics on government websites. If violations persist, the employer or recruitment agencies could lose their operating license.

For those members of The Vision Council for whom these new legal requirements may apply, we suggest taking immediate action and seek advice from local legal counsel to ensure full and complete compliance.