Chinese Government strengthens requirements on gender discrimination in employment

On 21st February 2019, a joint notice was issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, the Ministry of Education and other ministries and groups in China to ban gender discrimination in the workplace.   

According to the notice, if a corporation has discriminated on the basis of gender and refuses to correct this, it can be fined up to 50,000 RMB. If serious violations are identified, the service license of the employer or hiring agency will be terminated.

“Gender equality is at the core of our country’s national policy. Promoting equal employment for women is conducive to promoting women's participation in social and economic activities, in turn, enhancing social productivity and economic vitality. The Party and the government attach great importance to this. Laws and regulations in China such as the Labor Law, the Employment Promotion Act, and other laws aimed to protect women’s right and interests,clearly specify women’s equal rights and put in place regulations to combat gender discrimination in employment.” 

–       Notice of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security and the Ministry of Education on Further Regulating Recruitment Practice and Promoting Women Employment

The notice outlines that promoting equal employment for women is a national policy and explains other mechanisms to support women such asthe judicial system, monitoring of discrimination practices, guidance on handling complaints, as well as career support. 

Read the official notice in Chinese here


Anti-discrimination guidelines

The government notice provides the following guidance to companies:  

  • Gender should not be restricted or prioritized in the recruitment plan, the content of recruitment information, and the process of recruitment (except for the scope of positions that are restricted by the government) 
  • Employment and promotion prospects should not be restricted by gender
  • Employers should not make inquiries regarding female workers’ marital or childbearing status 
  • Pregnancy tests should not be an item of the pre-job occupational health check
  • Birth limits should not be the rationale for rejection 
  • Hiring requirements should not be raised for female candidates 

Assistance to support women  

In addition to an employment service to support female university students, the notice also encourages companiesto provide the following assistance to new mothers when they return to work: 

  • Provide skill improvement training to help new mothers catch up and adapt back to their positions quicker 
  • Promote infant and childcare services for those with children under 3 years old, strengthen the after-school care service for children 
  • Improve the implementation of maternity insurance, effectively make use of its purpose 
  • Strengthen supervision, law enforcement and punishment for those who violate labor rights for female employees regarding their pregnancy, maternity and breastfeeding.   

IETP requirements on discrimination  

IETP requirements to tackle discrimination are included in Chapter 9 of our audit checklist. All factories must comply with local laws and regulations regarding discrimination. Our checklist requirements also prohibit any kind of discrimination or unfair treatment on the basis of gender, marital status, pregnancy, race, religion, or sexual orientation. We require factories totake actions via policies, implementation methods and reporting mechanisms to prevent any cases of discrimination affecting recruitment, training, or promotion opportunities. 

Acts of discrimination are a critical violation in the IETP audit checklist. Our Ethical Toy Program Essentials training course provides practical advice to factories on tackling discrimination, include provisions to:

  • Provide adequate resources and training to human resource staff and educate them to understand and avoid acts of discrimination
  • Review content and language used in human resources documents to ensure these address discrimination risks and to remove any discriminatory language or restrictions, e.g. refs to workers’ age (age discrimination) or ‘female workers’ (gender discrimination)
  • Ensure overtime arrangements are equitable and fair

Chapter 4.2 in the IETP Audit Checklist sets out our special requirements forpregnant workers. 

Empowerment Women at toy factories in India 

IETP is currently piloting a Women’s Empowerment Program at three toy factories in India. Delivered in partnership with BSR, this program is tackling root causes of gender inequality through awareness raising, skill building and strengthening factory’s policies on sexual harassment and other gender issues.  

From increasing gender awareness to increasing the confidence of women, challenging gender norms to reducing gender based violence, the program is  delivering positive impacts through driving gender equality and improving the health and well-being of women working in factories. We are now exploring opportunities to expand the program to support female workers in China. 

IETP also offers various programs to strengthen child care provision for workers, including working mothers at factories. Our Family-Friendly Spaces program reunites parents with their left-behind children during the summer holiday. We also run After School Clubs which provide year-round childcare provision at factories. 

We encourage factories to pay attention to the latest local laws and regulations announced by the government. If you have any questions regarding the regulations please contact the governmenthotline on 12333, 12338 or 12351. For further information on how IETP can help you meet these requirements, please email us at or call +852 2111 2462.