What types of PRC individual can be employed in the PRC?

Basically any PRC individual can be employed in China except for persons under the age of 16.

However, it is important that an employer should check that a prospective employee has ended his or her employment contract with any former (or current) employer. PRC law provides that if an employer recruits an individual who has a current employment relationship with a different employer, the recruiting employer will be jointly liable with the individual for any damages suffered by the individual’s current (or former) employer as a result of the recruitment. In order to avoid any such risks, an employer should make sure that any prospective employee is free from any employment relationship with any other employer or, alternatively, has obtained written consent from the former employer to work elsewhere, if possible.

What about non-PRC individuals?

It is possible to employ non-PRC individuals (including Hong Kong/Macau/Taiwan individuals) in China once the appropriate Work Permits and Residency Permits have been approved and issued by the competent authorities, allowing them to work and stay legally in the PRC.

What is the likelihood of a particular non-PRC individual being issued with a work permit?

While any local labour authority may put in place additional requirements on a case-by-case basis, there are certain basic requirements that a prospective employer should be aware of, which vary depending on the nationality of the non-PRC individual.

With respect to a Hong Kong/Macau/Taiwan individual, he/she must:

  • Be aged between 18 to 60 and in good health
  • Have a valid travel permit (e.g., Home Return Permit)
  • Have corresponding qualification certificates as prescribed by the State if engaging in any of the professional (technical) occupations prescribed by the State

With respect to a foreign individual from anywhere else, he/she must:

  • Have reached the age of 18 and be in good health
  • Possess both the professional skills needed for the work and the corresponding work experience
  • Be free from any criminal record
  • Have a legal entity who will employ the individual
  • Possess a valid passport or other international travel permit which can substitute for a passport

In addition to the above, in practice, some cities (e.g., Beijing and Shanghai) may also require the prospective foreign individuals to have two or more years of working experience.

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