Business Alert - China
Dongguan Municipal Government recently issued a document on launching joint efforts to clamp down on the referral and use of child labour. Departments concerned include labour, personnel, industry and commerce administration, public security, civil affairs, education and publicity. Employment agencies introducing child labour will be closed down at once.
Following media reports on the Dongguan child labour scandal, the Dongguan municipal labour bureau set up a special task force on 28 April 2008 to start inspection across the city. As of early May, 124 employment agencies had been examined, 12 agencies were found illegal and 10 child workers were found in six enterprises.
"Stemming the source of child labour is still difficult," said Huang Huiping, deputy chief of the Dongguan municipal labour bureau, adding that the many internship and part-time programmes during summer time makes it difficult to determine whether the employers are using student workers as regular workers. The bureau will step up inspection during summer time.
To clamp down on the referral and use of child labour and irregular practices concerning the use of minor workers, the Dongguan Municipal Government has issued a set of suggestions on establishing an effective, long-term employment mechanism against the referral and use of child labour (Dong Fu No. 200882).
According to the suggestions, enterprises using child labour will be fined Rmb5,000 per child per month employed (in the case of less than one month, it will be counted as one month) and, if the enterprises fail to return the child workers (to their parents or legal guardian) according to applicable rules and regulations, the fine will be doubled (that is, Rmb10,000 per child per month).
Units or individuals who arrange for the employment of child labour will be fined Rmb10,000 per child introduced. Employment agencies found to have engaged in such acts will be closed down immediately. Among these, those which are not registered will face double fines. Under the suggestions, employers arranging child workers to work with toxic materials will be heavily punished with a penalty of up to Rmb300,000.
In addition, employers hiring minors over the age of 16 but not reaching the adult age should register at the labour department. They should sign employment contracts with and pay wages to these workers direct. Employers recruiting qualified student workers should pay the wages in full and on time to the students direct. Hiring students under the age of 16 as child labour in the name of internship is strictly prohibited.
Meanwhile, the Dongguan Municipal Government has set aside a special fund to reward informants on the use of child labour by enterprises. The informant will be awarded 50% of the fine after the case concerned is handled and the employment unit duly punished. The informant who provides tip-off leading to a verified case of child labour referral will be given a cash award of Rmb1,000. At the same time, the respective complaint hotlines of labour, personnel, public security, and industry and commerce administration departments will soon be announced to receive reports.