New Publication On Chinese Labour Law

In the attached law review article, published May 2014 by the University of Hawaii Law School’s Asian-Pacific Law & Policy Journal, Kyle deCant and I address a growing problem in enforcing Chinese labor law”the increasing reliance of employers in China on interns to perform routine, unskilled industrial and service work without labor law protections.

Typically, these industrial and service internship programs lack discernable educational or technical components, do not align with the interns’ own educational and career history and objectives and are forced on the students.  In some factories and work sites, up to one third of the line workers are classified as interns, paid subminimum wages and denied other labor law protections.  These interns are barred from labor law courts or workers’ compensation benefits. Foreseeably, the unaddressed grievances of these interns—the denial of minimum wages, normal hours and other abuses—have featured in large strikes, such as the Honda strike in 2010. This exclusion of a large group of workers from labor law contradicts the purpose and language of the comprehensive labor law reforms of 2008, and is without other authoritative support in Chinese labor law and policy.  We argue that lawyers, employers, trade unions and other worker rights advocates should take a second look at this misclassification of interns.

Earl Brown  – writes….


China recently enacted a series of sweeping labor law reforms, and has stood up a remarkable educational infrastructure, including an impressive system of technical schools.  Employers have, however, been using the availability of technical school graduates to staff basic industrial and service operations under the guise of providing technical training.  These employers have, in effect, created a class of unprotected Chinese workers.   This new class of marginalized workers is at odds with the aims of the 2008 labor law reforms— to set enforceable basic labor standards, to establish and open up access to peaceful labor dispute resolution procedures and to promote labor harmony.  This wholesale exemption lacks empirical support as it ignores the facts surrounding these internships.  Those facts often support the conclusion that the interns are workers under Chinese law, entitled to the protections and remedial process of labor law.  In some cases, the facts point to violations of international forced labor instruments.

Of course, the misclassification of workers as interns is a growing problem in North America and Europe as well.

The article can be found at:
MLA:     Brown Jr., Earl V. and Kyle deCant. “Exploiting Chinese Interns as Unprotected Industrial Labor.” Asia-Pacific Law & Policy 15:2: 150-195. 2014. Available at APLPJ: