Welfare for outsourced laborers a focus for deputies

Chen Huizhi
Deputies from Shanghai have made suggestions to better ensure labor rights for people who work outsourced jobs without labor contracts.
Chen Huizhi

The uniformed deliverymen that bring food or parcels to your doorstep are often not directly employed by the delivery businesses, rather engaged by outsourcing firms to provide the service.

At first glance, this might seem to be very much innocent, but in the case of labor disputes, the deliverymen often find themselves in an unfavorable position due to their complicated and unregulated work conditions.

During the Fifth Session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC), several deputies from Shanghai raised their concern about this problem, and made suggestions to the government.

Some truck drivers and Internet taxi drivers are also working with no signed labor contracts. In some cases, the laborers are even told to register themselves as self-employed, and with that their employers are totally exempt from taking care of their social insurance payments as well as other obligations under the labor law, said Liu Yan, vice head of Minhang District.

"It happens that a food deliveryman takes orders from company A, has his insurance covered by company B, gets paid by company C and has his income tax taken care of by company D, E, F and G," she said. "In this way company A cuts its costs by referring its obligations towards those who work for it to other business entities."

Since none of those companies is legally considered to be the deliveryman's employer, when a labor dispute arises, the outsourcing service provider might be assigned to take responsibility, but such companies often don't have the financial capacity to settle the disputes, Liu said.

Coupled with the problem is that many laborers engaged by outsourcing service providers have their social insurance paid in another city where the standard of payments is lower than large cities such as Shanghai, and in some other cases, they're only covered by commercial insurances, she added.

Liu suggested that businesses that mass outsource labor, such as delivery businesses, be obliged to report themselves to the human resource and social security watchdog as well as the outsourcing service providers they cooperate with.

The outsourcing service providers should be banned from further outsourcing jobs to similar firms, which often happens, and other related service providers should be required to pay social insurance of the workers locally, she said.

Both Liu and Ding Guanghong, a professor from Fudan University and fellow deputy, suggested the establishment of insurance funds for the workers with regular contribution from the businesses that use their labor.

As well, labor unions should be established for such workers to ensure and increase their welfare, said Chai Shanshan, a migrant postal worker who works at China Post Group's Shanghai Bureau, and Li Feng, a purchasing manager of Panda Group, a manufacturer of cleaning machines and construction water supply equipment.

Chai welcomed the latest effort in Putuo District to use community centers to provide comprehensive services to such workers ranging from legal consultation to career development instructions.

"Legal services are very important for them, while they will also need psychological consultation because they often work under a lot of pressure," Chai said.

Similar services have started to be introduced in Beijing and Shenzhen.

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