Concerning labour standards:
1) On 31 May 2019, two workers (husband and wife) complained to FWF that they could not receive their due wages after resigning from the factory. At the end of 2018, the complainants handed in their resignation a couple of times, however, it was not approved. The factory persuaded one of the complainants to resign after the New Year and promised he/she would be able to resign by then. However, after the New Year, he/she still did not receive approval. The complainant mentioned that if anyone wished to resign, they had to verbally inform the production manager one month in advance. Only after receiving verbal approval, they would be allowed to fill in a written resignation letter. On 27 March 2019, the second complainant had an argument with his/her group leader who said "if you don’t want to work here, it is not necessary for you to come anymore''. After this, the complainant felt very uncomfortable and was absent from work for one week. On 4 April 2019, the complainants were officially informed by factory management that they had to move out of the dormitory as the husband was dismissed due to his unapproved absence. At this point, the complainant (wife) approached the production manager to handle the problem on behalf of her husband. According to the complainant, the production manager promised that her husband’s wage of March 2019 would be paid together with the other workers’ wages by end of April 2019. However, her husband was not paid the wage of March 2019 at all. The complainant continued to negotiate with the factory management on her husband’s wages but the factory did not provide a proper answer. After the complainant tried several times to resign but without approval, she decided not to go to work as of 1 May 2019. At the end of May 2019, the complainant found her due wage of Apr 2019 had not been paid. The complainant said that, per their memories, her husband's wage for March 2019 was around 3,800 RMB while her wage of April 2019 was around 5,700 RMB. The complainant also mentioned that she signed a labour contract with the factory but she was not given a copy. The complainants asked FWF to help them receive their due wages.
2) A second complaint was received on 1 June 2019. The complainant resigned in writing on 1 December 2018. The resignation letter was submitted to his/her group leader. Meanwhile, he/she also turned in his/her resignation verbally to the production manager. However, the production manager persuaded him/her to resign after the New Year as they were very busy with production towards the end of the year and also did not have sufficient workers. The production manager promised that one month after the New Year, no matter whether the factory would be able to recruit a replacement or not, he would approve the complainant's resignation. However, when the complainant requested resignation on 24 March 2019, the production manager refused his/her resignation again. As a result, the complainant left the factory on the 1 May 2019. His/her wage of April 2019 was not paid on the payday of 31 May 2019. The complainant asked FWF to help him/her receive his/her due wage (April 2019) from the factory.
The complainant also mentioned he/she signed a labour contract with factory but was not given a copy.
3) A third complaint was received on 1 June 2019. The complainant informed he/she used to be a sewing worker at the suit workshop of the factory. He/she verbally turned in his/her resignation to the workshop supervisor at the end of February 2019. However, the supervisor rejected his/her resignation. As a consequence, the complainant could not go ahead and hand in his/her formal resignation in writing. At the beginning of March 2019, he/she turned in his/her resignation again but it was rejected one more time. He/she the decided to leave the factory on 28 March 2019 but did not receive his/her due wag. His/her wage for March 2019 was around 2,600 RMB. He/she asked FWF to help him/her receive his/her due wage.
4) A forth complaint was received on 5 June 2019. A former worker complained to FWF that he/she turned in his/her resignation in December 2018 but it was rejected. As a result, he/she quit the factory on his/her own initiative at the end of January 2019. The factory promised to pay all due wages to him/her, however, his/her wage of January 2019 was not paid. According to the complainant, the due wage was 6,000 RMB plus 2,000 performance bonus.
Findings and conclusions
- A copy of the labour contracts of the complainants with the clause related to the resignation policy.
- Confirmation that all workers (including new ones) had received a copy of their labour contracts.
- More information about workers not being able to resign. Suit Supply told the factory that they understood how worker shortage could be difficult, but restricting workers to leave is considered forced labour.
In response, the factory provided a copy of the labour contract, where was stated that in accordance with Article 42 of the Labour Contract Law, Party B shall terminate Party A's labour contract by notifying Party A in writing 30 days in advance (less than three days during the trial period). Factory management also explained that one copy of the labour contract is kept in the archive and employees are notified by the clerk to collect it. If some employees do not wish to collect their copy, the clerk would save it in the file cabinet. Workers can pick it up any time if they need.
The factory confirmed that wages were not paid and this was because the five complainants had been recruited by another factory and did not resign according to the formal resignation procedure. They did not verify the individual's salary and information with the HR department. Suit Supply concluded that indeed the workers were not paid their outstanding salaries. Since they resigned without notice, they received 80% compensation as mentioned in the Chinese Labour Law, according to the factory. Suit Supply requested FWF to double check with the workers if these amounts were received and if this was, as the factory stated, according to law. In addition, Suit Supply double checked if no other workers resigned without notice to make sure all were compensated and requested if FWF had any more information.
FWF responded that since the factory admitted there was "information asymmetry due to their internal management communications" (production management personnel and their HR management), FWF strongly requested the factory to pay a full amount of wage to the complainants instead of 80%, this problem was mainly caused by factory's internal management and therefore the factory should take the full responsibility. Suit Supply took action to request the factory to pay the remaining 20% and informed FWF that the remaining 20% was paid. FWF’s complaints handler contacted the five complainants, who confirmed receipt of the remaining 20% of their salaries. This complaint is resolved. Nevertheless, FWF requests Suit Supply to keep monitoring the factory to ensure the resignation policy is implemented according to national law in order to avoid that non-payment of salaries happen again in future.
Overview of the complaint investigation
After receiving the complaint Suit Supply immediately reached out to the factory to investigate this case. Also three additional complaints were received about the same issue with non payment of outstanding salaries for resigned employees.
Suit Supply came back with a response and mentioned it took time to collect all info since there were people involved from different departments that report to different supervisors.
Suit Supply asked them to focus on my below 4 questions:
1. A copy of the labor contracts of these workers with the resign clause in it;
2. If the workers claims are wrong and they are paid correctly, copy of receipts/ bank transfers that show this clearly;
3. If the workers claims are correct, can you please walk us through your side of the story;
4. A confirmation that all workers now have received a copy of their labour contracts and that these are also handed out to all new workers;
5. More information from factories side about workers not being able to resign- we understand that the worker shortage is difficult, but restricting workers to leave technically is forced labor and not allowed.
In response, this is what the factory has come back with:
1. A copy of the labor contract.
In accordance with Article 42 of the Labor Contract Law, Party B shall terminate Party A's labor contract by notifying Party A in writing 30 days in advance (less than three days during the trial period).
2. The workers' feedback on the unpaid wages is true, but the workers did not resign according to the formal resignation procedures. They did not verify the individual's salary and information with HR department. But our production management personnel handled the incidents and haven't given feedback in time. There are problems such as asymmetry of information. Our company will deal with the salary problems according to the Labor Law, the Labor Contract Law and the company's rules and regulations very soon.
3. On the issue of labor contract: one copy of the labor contract is kept in the archives room, and another employee is notified by the clerk to the window to collect it. If some employees who are not convenient to keep it, the clerk will help to save it in the file cabinet. The workers could pick it up at any time if they need.
4/5. The reasons of employee's complains that they cannot resign: 1 The employee did not submit a written resignation letter according to the normal resignation process, and did not go to the HR department for corresponding assistance and coordination. 2 because of work intensity and management methods, etc., sometimes there will be emotional resentment. When the emotions covered, and the situation will be reassured. 3 the four employees are vicious recruited by another factory. Especially the couple suddenly left the company without mentioning any resignation in 2019 and joined the other factory. In response to the incident, the company will strengthen the management of the resignation of employees. In accordance with the relevant provisions of the Labor Law and the Labor Contract Law, we gradually standardize and improve in future.
Suit Supply has asked the factory to especially update them on point 2, how much outstanding payment and when this will be solved.
07/03/2019 Conclusion of the investigation
Suit Supply concluded that indeed workers were not paid their outstanding salaries after resignation.
Suit Supply send the proof of compensation to the workers. Since they resigned without notice, they got 80% compensation as mentioned in the Chinese Labour law. Suit Supply requested FWF to double check with the workers if these amounts were received accordingly and if this was indeed, as the factory stated, according to law and fair.
Suit Supply was still double checking if no other workers resigned without notice to make sure all got compensated and requested if FWF had any more information.
FWF responded that since the factory admitted there was information asymmetry due to their internal management communications (production management personnel and their HR management), FWF strongly request the factory to pay a full amount of wage to the complainants instead of the current 80%. They just cannot attribute the fault to the complainants and this problem was mainly caused by factory's internal management. FWF request the factory to take full responsibilities. Suit Supply took action to request the factory to pay the remaining 20% and informed FWF that the remaining 20% was paid.
After communicating with the all 5 complainants they confirmed the proper receipt of the remaining 20% of their salaries.
This complaint is resolved. Nevertheless FWF requests Suit Supply to remain monitoring the factory, so the policy and communication is implemented correctly to avoid that non-payment of salaries for resigned employees will happen in the future.