King & Wood Mallesons’ Labor & Employment Group

The Decision to Amend the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Prevention and Treatment of Occupational Diseases was adopted by the Standing Committee of the 11th National People’ s Congress on December 31st, 2011. The amended Law of the People’s Republic of China on Prevention and Treatment of Occupational Diseases (hereinafter "Law") came into force on the same day.

In order to protect the rights and interests of patients with occupational diseases, the Law makes diagnosis and appraisal of occupational diseases more practicable. For instance, if an occupational disease diagnosis or appraisal institution deems necessary to investigate the hazardous factors that may result in occupational diseases in the workplace, the institution may conduct an on-site investigation itself, or request the administrative departments of work safety supervision to so investigate. Upon the request, the administrative departments shall make an on-site investigation within 10 days. And employers shall not refuse or hinder the foresaid investigations.

Considering that the latency period of some occupational diseases could be long, the Law specifies that local governments shall take measures to provide aids on aspects of medical treatment, living, etc. to the patients whose occupational diseases appear after their employers ceased to exist or whose employment relationship can not be identified.

In addition, the Law adds that during the diagnosis and appraisal of occupational diseases, if the parties disagree on the employment relationship, job category, work position or service period for determining the employee’ s profession history and history of exposure to work-related hazard, the parties may submit their disputes to local labor dispute arbitration commission and the arbitration commission shall accept the case and issue an arbitral award within 30 days.

King & Wood Mallesons: The new Regulations on Work-Related Injury Insurance, effective as from January 1st, 2011, provides relatively comprehensive rules for treatment and benefits for occupational diseases, and the new Law more focuses on perfecting the scheme for occupational diseases diagnosis and appraisal. On the one hand, the Law enhances the responsibilities of employers in order to force them to fulfill their obligations during occupational diseases diagnosis and appraisal, such as providing required materials for diagnosis and appraisal. On the other hand, the Law is more favorable to employees to ease their difficulties in reality. For instance, the period of arbitration to determining employees’ profession history or history of exposure to work-related hazard is shortened from 45 days to 30 days. The employers should pay attention to the Law and update their internal occupational diseases prevention and control schemes so as to keep in compliance with the newest legislation.