Sex-neutral hiring practices and workplace protections for females


Shenzhen Municipality and Jiangsu Province recently issued standards and rules to strengthen sex-neutral hiring practices and workplace protections for female employees.

These new standards and rules are part of a wider and continuing trend among Chinese local governments to promote gender equality.

Shenzhen. On 3 July 2018, the Shenzhen Municipal Human Resources and Social Security Bureau issued the Notice on Standardizing Decision-making on Administrative Penalties Under the Shenzhen Regulations on the Promotion of Sex Equality. Specifically, the notice provides detailed standards for human resources and social security authorities to implement administrative penalties under Shenzhen’s existing sex equality regulations.

The city’s existing regulations were the first local regulations in China to exclusively address the issue of sex equality.

According to the notice, any employer imposing sex-based hiring restrictions during the recruitment process will be fined RMB3,000 (US$437) if the employer fails to remove the restriction within the timeline set by the labour bureau.

In addition, refusing to hire female candidates or setting higher job qualification standards based on an individual’s sex, marriage status or pregnancy status will also result in fines ranging from RMB10,000 to RMB30,000 depending on the number of candidates harmed.

Jiangsu. On 1 July 2018, the Special Provisions of Jiangsu Province for Labour Protection of Female Employees superseded the 1989 measures on the same subject. The provisions add new requirements on sex-neutral hiring and prohibit employers from restricting, refusing or setting higher job qualification standards for hiring female employees. Moreover, the employment contract with a female employee may not restrict her right to marriage and childbirth.

In addition, the provisions specifically require employers to take certain steps to prevent sexual harassment, such as: formulating anti-sexual harassment workplace policies; providing training to employees on sexual harassment; and establishing an employee complaint channel, handling complaints in a timely manner, and protecting the privacy of the parties involved.

In terms of employee protections related to childbirth, the provisions address and clarify several key issues on maternity leave, nursing leave and other related benefits.

First, the provisions include more generous miscarriage leave than under national law. Second, the provisions include greater rest entitlement and working hour restrictions for employees in their first and last trimesters of pregnancy.

Finally, after an employee’s maternity leave period ends, the employee may take up to six months of nursing leave with employer approval at 80% of her base salary. If the employee would like to take nursing leave beyond six months, the employer and employee can negotiate the adjusted salary.

Business Law Digest is compiled with the assistance of Baker McKenzie. Readers should not act on this information without seeking professional legal advice. You can contact Baker McKenzie by e-mailing Danian Zhang (Shanghai) at