China’s New Guidelines on Work-Related Injuries

Monday, November 10, 2014 | Published by

China’s Supreme People’s Court recently announced new guidelines for work-related injuries in social insurance cases, known as the Rules on Work-Related Injuries Insurance (hereinafter, Rules) which entered into effect on 1 September 2014.1

The Rules are welcomed by many employers, considering the past difficulties in trying to determine the party responsible for work-related injuries. Thus, these new Rules are expected to be an asset for resolving these types of disputes.

The Rules establish the criteria to 1) identify which party is responsible for the insurance; 2) provide definitions of the “period outside the workplace” (when an employee is conducting business on behalf of the employer in a location beyond the workplace premises); and 3) provide definitions on “the way to and from work” (locations between the habitual residence and the workplace).

Despite the existing regulations (Regulations on Work-Related Injury Insurance) which define a work-related injury, in practice, the current law is simply too general and inefficient and often fails to resolve the majority of these cases.

These latest Rules were enacted in order to improve the interpretation of the law and to serve as a model on work-related injury matters. The Rules provide clear and accurate measures in order to make it easier to determine if a work-related injury has occured.

Classifications

First, the Rules classify “when a situation amounts to a work-related injury”. Specifically, this will occur when:

  • the employee’s injury takes place during working hours and the employer or the Social Insurance Administrative Department has no evidence that the injury took place in a non-work-related manner;
  • the employee was injured during an activity organized by the employer, or during an activity organized by other organizations, but to which the employee was asked to attend by the employer;
  • the employee’s injury occurs during a journey within working hours while he/she is carrying out his/her work responsibilities, if such injury takes place within a reasonable proximity to the workplace; and
  • whatever injury the employee suffers during working hours and within a reasonable proximity to the workplace, while he/she is carrying out his/her professional duties.

The Rules also define the meaning of “period outside the workplace” as:

  • the period in which the employee is in a place different from the workplace, while carrying out his/her professional duties, due to an employer’s assignment;
  • the period in which the employee is attending a meeting and he/she was sent by the employer; and
  • the period in which the employee is outside the workplace due to his/her professional responsibilities.

Finally, the Rules also explain the phrase “on the way to and from work” as:

  • the route which the employee takes between his/her workplace and his/her domicile, habitual residence or dormitory on a reasonable route and within a reasonable time period;
  • the route which the employee takes between his/her workplace and the residence of his/her close relatives (spouse, parents or children) on a reasonable route and within a reasonable time period;
  • the route which the employee takes between his/her workplace and the place where he/she performs those activities necessary for living on a reasonable route and within a reasonable time period; and
  • whatever route which the employee takes between his/her workplace and any other place within a reasonable time period.

In essence, the court has specified three factors that should be considered in order to determine if the facts under reveiw satisfy the requirements regarding “the way to and from work”:

  • the reason why the employee was on or off-duty;
  • under the circumstanmces, what is a reasonable commute; and
  • what is considered a reasonable route between the employee’s workplace and residence.

Conclusion

The rules produced by China’s Supreme People’s Court will provide assistance to local as well as multi-national employers with operations in China. These newly established principles of “when a situation amounts to a work-related injury”, the “period outside the workplace” and “the way to and from work”, have, to a great extent, simplified many of the uncertainties within the law that give rise to workplace related injury claims. As such, these guidelines will allow employers to honor meritorious claims and guard against corruption.


1 China GoAbroad, September 2014

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