“In China hire people you can fire? What are you talking about?” Anyone coming from “at will” employment America will be, or has been, rudely awaken by China’s protection of its workers.
So what would I mean if I said to hire people you can fire?
Several years ago, a company called me in to help them understand their people problems. I quickly discovered that the purchasing manager was teaching workers to disrespect the owner. The company then made him a legal and reasonable offer in severance of one month severance for each year plus 1. This is the law here.
He refused to sign. In China, that means we cannot fire him. If you have done anything not right in the employment or the severance offer, he can take you to arbitration, and you will lose. They had no handbook which might have called out such behavior, so I told them to take away his computer and have him sit at his desk and no one talk to him. He sat there for nearly 3 weeks which was very awkward, and then he signed and left. China Law Blog Talked about letting people go here.
In another company a finance manager after passing probation called in sick and could get half pay for being sick time and full benefits. She did not come for weeks. They pressed her, and she brought a doctors note saying that she was sick and could not work. She was scamming them and knew a doctor. This went on for months. They tried to fire her, and she would not sign. So, the company took her to arbitration. The arbitration manager told the Western company, “You have done nothing wrong and have all the correct paperwork, but look how upset she is. Pay her 56,000 in severance.” No joke.
These events would never happen in the US. Even in a union shop, I think you could not see these happen. In China, when you fire someone, you need to be very nice to them to get them to sign. If they do not sign, then you still have to pay them to still be employed, and probably will lose in arbitration if you go there.
So, In China Hire People You Can Fire
People of character will leave when you make them a good offer and not make trouble. They will not take you to arbitration. The good news is you also do not usually need to fire such people. You cannot find, “able to be fired” on their resume. You cannot believe if they write they are trustworthy. The resume saying they are a good team player will not guarantee you anything.
So now what? In China, you need to be very careful to look at character when hiring.
How do you get at the trustworthiness of an individual in an interview?
Asking them what they would do in a dicey situation will not help you. Anyone can tell you the right story. The worst hires can tell the story fabulously.
It is good to make the candidate feel safe in the interview and ask easy questions and then work toward harder questions like asking what happened that made them want to leave that company? Actually, as you dig deep, you will be able to sense places where they could admit they were wrong or failed. Candidates who can do that in the interview are often great hires. A background check is necessary, but these are just the people who usually come out looking very good in the deepest of background checks. When they do not, they are usually the trickiest kind of people. See this 4 minute video on how we became a Premium China Recruiter
Making a Good China Hire Also Helps You Sleep at Night
SHI Group always want to help you succeed in China, and we also hope that gets you better sleep. Letting people go does not have to be a nightmare in China if you have the right people. You also will save a lot on severance and hiring losses if you just make sure to get the right people up front. It has served me and my customers well since 1997. On the rare occasions I have had to let people go, it has never been a problem as people of character do not make you trouble when they leave. China Recruitment is not child’s play. If you want to taste a better way, learn about our China Recruitment Agency