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Public Responds to Draft Employment Law

A total of 4,713 suggestions have poured into the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) via Internet and mail since the public was invited on March 25 to comment on the draft employment promotion law.

Discrimination in the employment market is an issue of top concern among Chinese citizens.

Some people wrote to the NPC outlining a variety of discriminations that exist in the labor market. Among these was mention of China's 120 million hepatitis B virus carriers, most of whom suffer discrimination when seeking jobs.

According to public complaints, the labor market also discriminates against women, the disabled, rural laborers, and those who have not received higher education.

Some complained that employees in state-owned enterprises are divided into two types -- officially contracted workers and temporary workers. Even though they do the same jobs, the former earn higher wages and enjoy social insurance, while the latter are paid less and have no social insurance.

Some people said the draft employment law does contain some provisions against discrimination, but they are too general. They believe the law should specify the legal responsibility of employers who discriminate against certain employees.

Free employment services needed

Another complaint was that organizers of government-sponsored job fairs only care about admission fees rather than how many job seekers manage to find a job at the job fairs.

"Government-sponsored employment services should be free," they argued.

Other people described the phenomenon of unlawful job agencies cheating migrant workers of their money under the guise of providing job opportunities for them.

They suggested the law contain detailed provisions to crack down on illegal job agencies. Because the registration fee for opening a job agency is so low, it's easy for scammers to start a business. Some suggested that the government increase the registration fee to screen out illegal employment service providers.

More services for university graduates

One criticism of the employment promotion law was that it lacks provisions offering legal support for the employment of university graduates.

They said university graduates do not have enough capital to start their own businesses, so the law should be amended to support university graduates who want to become entrepreneurs.

Other people said that since the state encourages university graduates to work in remote and underdeveloped western areas, the law should ensure that they enjoy government-backed social insurance.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Security warns that 1.4 million university and college graduates are unlikely to find jobs when they finish their studies this summer.

Among the more than 4,000 suggestions, there are also some suggestions about providing favorable employment policies for the disabled, senior laid-off workers, and farmers who lose their farmland.

(Xinhua News Agency April 5, 2007)

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