Foxconn and Chinese labor law

June 15, 2010

There have been a recent spate of news stories about the working conditions in the Foxconn factory that,  as part of its workload , has been producing Apple products such as the Iphone and Ipad.

Foxconn has been in the news recently regarding the working conditions at the factory, and a series of suicides of their workers that are said by some to be partly a result of those conditions.  At interest to more than one Summer Associate was the labor laws currently in effect in China.  If you are a subscriber to Westlaw China you can access our English translation of the Labor Contract Law of 2008 by clicking “Laws and Regulations” and searching “Labor Contract Law of the People’s Republic of China” in the title field.

Among other things, this law prevents an employer from forcing employees to work overtime and requires the employer to pay overtime wages in accordance with the state regulations (Article 31); prevents the employer from holding the identity card of employees (Article 9); and limits non-compete provisions to senior managerial personnel, senior technical personnel and other personnel who are “obliged to maintain confidentiality of the employer” (Article 24).

Of course the enforcement of the Labor Contract Law is an open question as has been widely reported.  There are many stories of it being frequently ignored.  More recently, there have been some stories regarding a more populist trend regarding Chinese workers.  The recent apparent increased bargaining power of the Chinese laborer will have a bigger impact in the end then legislation alone.