China’s civil code covers sexual harassment, privacy protections

China’s civil code covers sexual harassment, privacy protections

Employers in China will have to implement measures to prevent and address sexual harassment — and take account of employees’ privacy rights — under measures included in the first ever Civil Code issued by the National People’s Congress on 28 May 2020. The Civil Code compiles civil laws on the rights of private parties and will take effect on 1 Jan 2021. 

Provisions against sexual harassment

  • Employers will have to take “reasonable measures” to prevent sexual harassment, and introduce procedures for investigating and handling claims. Employers must also prevent and stop sexual harassment resulting from abuse of power, such as personal and other networks or connections.
  • “Sexual harassment” includes misconduct manifested through words, text, images, physical behavior or other means. While current law does prohibit sexual harassment, it is not defined.
  • Victims of harassment will be allowed to bring claims against perpetrators, although the code does not set out the procedures for bringing claims or the potential damages that could be awarded.

Privacy rights

  • The code also includes privacy right provisions, which will prohibit employers from infringing on an employee’s life outside of the workplace via telephone, text messages, instant messaging tools, emails, and leaflets — unless the employee agrees. The code also defines personal data and how it may be processed.  

Related resources

Fiona Webster
by Fiona Webster

Principal, Mercer’s Law & Policy Group

Stephanie Rosseau
by Stephanie Rosseau

Principal, Mercer’s Law & Policy Group

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