Companies in Dongguan, Guangdong Province could face fines of up to 300,000 yuan (US$43,000) for employing children, the local labor department has said.
Authorities in the Pearl River Delta city, which was the center of a child labor probe last month, said the new regulation will help crack down on the practice.
Under a new ruling, companies will be fined 5,000 yuan per month for each child (aged under 16) they employ, the Southern Metropolis Daily reported on Tuesday.
If a firm commits a second offence, the labor department can double the fine to 10,000 yuan and revoke its business license, the newspaper said.
The maximum fine of 300,000 yuan will be handed down to companies that employ children to work with toxic substances, it said.
Officials from the Dongguan labor department will this month make daily patrols of suspected offenders and provide firms with publicity about the new regulation. Companies will be urged to complete worker registration forms and maintain comprehensive personnel files, the newspaper said.
Any firm that employs children legally - for instance in the performing arts or sports - must register the information with the authorities, it said.
Late last month, Dongguan labor officials raided more than 3,500 factories following a report by the Southern Metropolis Daily that more than 1,000 children, aged between 9 and 16 from poor families in Liangshan, Sichuan province, had been lured to Dongguan, Shenzhen and Huizhou to work as cheap labor in factories.
The report also prompted the Guangdong government to launch a province-wide investigation into child labor.
Following the investigations, local authorities claimed the media reports had exaggerated the situation, with the Liangshan government claiming they found only eight workers below the age of 16 working in Dongguan.
(China Daily May 22, 2008)