At Work in Beijing


Work Usage in Beijing


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Most international business offices are located in Guomao, Dawang, around the Eastern 3rd Ring Road, Chaoyangmen. The Central Business District (CBD) is centered around Guomao. Many technology companies have offices in Haidian.

Businesses are usually open from 8:00 to 12:30 and from 13:30pm to 17:00 with a period closed for lunch from Monday to Friday. On Saturday some businesses may be open for a half day, while Sunday is a day of rest. The standard work week is 40-4 hours with a minimum of one rest day per week mandatory.

Wages & Salary

The minimum wages for each region in China are set by provincial-level governments, generally calculated on a monthly basis with different wage levels specified for different regions below the provincial level. In Beijing, the minimum wage is 1,160 RMB a month.

Average graduate salary in Beijing: 2,800-3,000 RMB a month
Teacher: 3,500 to 4,800 RMB a month
Software Engineer: 8,200 RMB a month
IT Project Manager: 20,000 RMB a month

Business Cultural Norms

It's important in business relations in China to build good personal relationships. It is common for there to be several social meetings before real business is discussed.

Expect to encounter delays and frustrations at some point in business. Keeping your temper is of tantamount importance. In Chine, this is called "maintaining face". Err on the side of patience and politeness.

Address people by their title and last name. The Chinese often ask apparently intrusive questions about your age, income or marital status. These questions are not meant to offend, but if you don't want to answer, remain polite and give an unspecific answer. Avoid talking politics unless you know the person very well. Try not to criticise China or Chinese leaders. It is best not to refer to Hong Kong as if it was still run by another administration or Taiwan or Tibet as a separate entity. It is fine to tell jokes in informal situations, but they are best avoided when speaking to a group. Sexual jokes are taboo. Realize that saying "no" can be seen as a loss of face and if a request cannot be met, you might be told that it is inconvenient or under consideration. Alternatively, you might be told "yes, but it will be difficult". This might seem like a positive response, but in reality means "no" or "probably not".

Gift giving is common and used to express friendship, the successful conclusion of an endeavor or appreciation for a favor done. Often, the symbolic value of the gift is of more importance than the material value. Red and gold are lucky colors to wrap gifts with.

Business cards are an essential element of business. Upon meeting people will exchange business cards when being introduced. It is a sign of courtesy to have your card translated into Chinese. Often times there is English on one side, with Chinese on the other. Present your card with both hands with the Chinese side face up. Shows respect for the cards by examining it for a moment.

Banquets are a traditionally part of business in China. Very senior people who may be hard to meet are often present at these meeting. The banquet is an opportunity to impress them and get a feel for how things are going. Guests are seated further away from the host in descending order of seniority, with the most junior having their back to the door. It is polite to try a little of each dish if it is offered to you. Otherwise, you can discreetly leave any dishes that do not appeal to you. Toasts are frequent of locally produced wines or bai jiu (strong spirit). Arrive early as most people attend before the start time. They also tend to leave en masse as soon as the last dish has been eaten.

Contract

The Chinese system is a contract employment system. This means all employees must be engaged pursuant to a written employment contract and during the term of that contract. After the initial contract term expires, employees may be re-hired pursuant to a second fixed term contract. However, at the end of that fixed term the employee automatically will be converted into a employee with an open contract term.

Because of this, determining the length of the initial employment term is critical. An initial term of three years is highly recommended. This includes a 6 month probationary period during which time the contract can be terminated.

The employee should read and understand all conditions before signing. If it is in a language other than your mother tongue, you should allow a trusted advisor (like a lawyer or close friend) that is fluent in that language to inspect it.

Termination

It is very difficult to terminate an employee. They may only be fired for cause which must be clearly documented. This means the employer must maintain a detailed set of rules and regulations and must maintain careful discipline records to be able to establish grounds for dismissal. This whole situation makes the employment relationship and the employment documents very adversarial.

Time Off

There are at 5-15 paid vacation days allowed a year (None the First year, 5 days years 2 through 9, 10 days years 10 through 19, and 15 days for 20 or more years). This may only be available for employees who have worked over one year. Employees may also take leave for personal reasons including marriage, or death of a relative.

Holidays

There are 11 public holidays per year that all last multiple days to give the Chinese over 115 days off. Holidays include: the Spring Festival, Labor Day, National Day, New Year's Day, Qingming Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival, National Day, Women's Day, Children's Day and Army Day. To find out the dates, consult the Holiday Calendar.


Update 12/05/2011

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