Tips, recommendations and common pitfalls.
In first quarter of 2020, the Chinese government adopted policies to restrain social activities and advocated for employers to arrange for employees to work from home, for pandemic prevention purposes. Some employers attempted to permanently arrange for supportive employees to work at home afterwards, as they accumulated telework experience during this period. There is no official guidelines or mandatory rules to cope with employment under this scenario. In this regard, updating the company’s internal policies and procedures is essential in order to respond to potential legal risks. First, the employer shall determine positions that will implement telework and address them as such in employee handbooks or the employment contracts. Second, the employer shall set up detailed management rules specifically for employees working from home, such as rules of timely reporting working hours and progress, rules of overtime application, etc. Third, employees’ personal data and privacy protections as well as protections for employers’ trade secrets shall also be considered. It is therefore advisable that employers obtain written consent before collecting, storing, or using employees’ personal data and formulate a confidentiality policy for personal computer and mobile phone usage. Lastly and highly controversial, involves identification of an employee’s work-related injury while he/she is working at home, whether employers may require employees to confirm the safety of their environment in writing, from time to time, and whether they may evaluate the same periodically.