China will take robust and multi-pronged measures to ensure that employment remains stable. The government will increase support for flexible employment, boost job opportunities for people with disabilities, and tackle with legal means the persisting issue of wage arrears affecting migrant workers.
A host of steps were decided on at the State Council’s executive meeting on Dec 4 chaired by Premier Li Keqiang.
The Chinese government puts stable employment high on its agenda. General Secretary Xi Jinping issued the instruction on multiple occasions to enhance institutional arrangements to promote fuller employment and create better-quality jobs. Premier Li Keqiang has chaired a number of meetings that center on policies to stabilize employment and create jobs, and implementing the employment-first policy.
Figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) last month show that 11.93 million new urban jobs were created in the first 10 months of this year, meeting the yearly target of 11 million ahead of schedule. The surveyed urban unemployment rate in October at the national level was 5.1 percent, down 0.1 percentage point from the previous month.
“We will face even greater risks and challenges next year. We must give higher priority to keeping employment stable, as this is the key in ensuring that our economy does not slide out of the proper range,” Premier Li said.
It was emphasized at the meeting on Dec 4 that local governments must fully appreciate the significance of stable employment. They are required to introduce more measures that support job creation, and promptly repeal unwarranted regulations that hinder flexible employment. More efforts will be made to catalyze business start-ups and innovation. The terms of guaranteed loans to micro and small start-ups will be eased. Jobs for the public good will be expanded in areas of weakness related to people’s lives.
The government will intensify support to businesses to keep their payrolls stable. The current policies of lowering the premiums of unemployment insurance and workplace injury compensation insurance, partial reimbursement of unemployment insurance contributions for employers who keep their payrolls, and subsidies for in-job vocational training will continue for another year.
“Employment is essential to people’s well-being. It is the wellspring of wealth and the foundation for social stability,” Premier Li said. “Nothing big would go wrong next year if we could keep employment stable."
The meeting required that the vocational upskilling program be fully implemented and vocational training for essential skills be enhanced. The employment safety net will be strengthened to help unemployed people living in difficulty meet their essential needs. For instance, those who have not found full-time jobs yet who are no longer eligible for the allowance of flexible employment insurance will be able to stay on this benefit for another year.
To better leverage the Employment Security Fund for Disabled People to boost their employment, it was decided at the meeting that the Fund’s collecting methods will be improved, incentivizing more employers to raise the percentage of disabled people on their payrolls. The job needs of disabled people as well as vocational training and employment services will be prioritized in the use of the Fund to help people with disabilities land higher-quality jobs.
“We must take multi-pronged steps to keep existing jobs and add new ones, and introduce measures that boost job creation as quickly as possible. This year, thanks to the reform in transforming government functions and our mass entrepreneurship initiative, an average of nearly 20,000 businesses are newly registered every day. This has greatly eased the employment pressure,” Premier Li said.
It was recognized at the meeting that migrant workers have made significant and unique contributions to the country’s development. They should be remunerated in full and on time for their hard work. Legal means are needed to promote the fundamental resolution of the wage arrears they face.
The meeting also adopted a new regulation on ensuring wage payments to migrant workers to resolve the problem of wage arrears.
The regulation clearly defines the primary responsibility of employers, the responsibility of local governments and the responsibility of regulatory authorities. It stipulates that wages of migrant workers must be paid in full and on time.
According to the new regulation, no construction will begin and no building permit issued if the funding requirements of the project are not met. And a blacklist of employers who delay paying migrant workers will be set up.
The meeting urged local governments to take the wage arrears in government-invested projects as a top priority. Governments at all levels, State-owned enterprises and government-affiliated institutions must under no circumstances incur new wage arrears.
“We must ensure that the essential needs of unemployed people are met, and fully protect the rights of people with disabilities and migrant workers,” Premier Li said.