Managing Recruitment Risks in China: A Comprehensive Approach

Posted by Written by Karen Huang Reading Time: 5 minutes

Recruitment carries inherent risks. Non-compliance with labor laws, as well as violations of employment equality and personal information protection regulations during the recruitment process, can result in administrative penalties or other legal consequences.  Understanding the relevant risk points and compliance issues is crucial for businesses operating in China. 

Recruitment is a critical function that significantly impacts an organization’s success. Beyond filling vacant positions, it serves as an opportunity to showcase company culture and enhance the organization’s overall image. However, recruitment also comes with inherent risks, and being aware of compliance issues is essential.

In this article, we explore risk management strategies for five common activities within the recruitment cycle, including job posting, resume collection, interview, background check, and offer issuing.

Recruitment risks during job posting

Employment discrimination during job posting is a significant risk that organizations must address. Explicitly prohibited by the Employment Promotion Law of the People’s Republic of China, discrimination based on ethnicity, race, gender, or religious belief is strictly forbidden.

To ensure compliance and promote fairness, employers should avoid mentioning certain job qualifications in their postings. Below are some qualifications that are unnecessary or should not be included:

Qualifications to avoid mentioning in job postings Reasons
Minorities Ethnic discrimination
Male or female preferred; male or female only; unmarried candidates only or preferred Gender discrimination*
Nonreligious or religious are preferred Religious discrimination
Full-time undergraduates only; undergraduates from the list of 985 or 211 universities only Educational background discrimination
Age is between 25 and 35. Age discrimination
Reject the carrier of any infectious pathogen. Health discrimination**
Local citizen only Regional discrimination

*Notice on Further Regulating Recruitment Activities and Promoting Equal Employment for Women states that in the process of developing a recruitment plan, posting recruitment information, and employing personnel, all employers and human resources service agencies are prohibited from imposing gender restrictions (except for job scopes specially prohibited for female employees) or give priority to certain gender.

** The Employment Promotion Law of the People’s Republic of China states that no employer, when recruiting employees, shall refuse to employ a job candidate on the basis that he/she is a carrier of any infectious pathogen. However, no carrier of any infectious pathogen that has been proven by the medical examination shall enter into any employment that is prone to facilitate the spread of infectious diseases and is therefore forbidden by laws, administrative regulations, or the public health administration department of the State Council before he/she is cured or eliminates the suspicion of carrying such infectious pathogen.

When posting recruiting information, enterprises are recommended to focus on job qualifications related to position requirements, such as skills, certificates, major, and work experiences, and avoid describing requirements that are related to individual characteristics like age, height, gender, religious belief, or hometown.

Additionally, the content of recruitment information shall be accurate and effective. Avoid using exaggerated terms like ‘most’, ‘biggest’, and ‘best’,  such as claiming to be the best company in the industry or providing the best welfare. Fake job advertising can lead to complaints and legal issues.

Recruitment risks at the resume collection stage

Resumes contain various personal information that is protected by the Personal Information Protection Law of the People’s Republic of China (PIPL).

In the recruitment cycle, the following measures are suggested to stay compliant with the PIPL:

  • Minimum principle: Resume collection shall be limited to essential information for assessing a candidate’s qualifications. This includes collecting details such as name, contact information, education, working experience, skills, and certificates related to the position. Unnecessary information, such as nationality, ID card number, gender, birthday, religion, marital status, and family members, shall not be collected during the recruitment process.
  • Clarify personal information policies: When collecting resumes through the self-owned platform (such as the company’s website, social media, or email) or internal referral, consider adding a reminder on the resume delivery page or on the job posting page to clarify how the personal information will be handled, including the purpose, type of information, scope of usage, and storage period. If the enterprise obtains resumes through third parties (such as recruitment websites and headhunters), it is advisable to discuss rights and obligations related to personal information handling with those third parties.
  • Proper management and timely deletion: Enterprises should handle resumes appropriately and delete them promptly if they exceed the designated storage period.

Recruitment risks at the interview stage

Companies assess candidates’ comprehensive abilities through face-to-face interviews, virtual interviews, personality tests, and skill assessments. However, during these interactions, companies should be mindful of the following:

  • Interviewers must refrain from insulting, discriminating against, or abusing candidates.
  • Interviewers should avoid probing into the business secrets of a candidate’s previous or current employers.
  • Interviewers should not inquire about marital status, pregnancy, or other personal matters.
  • Interviewers should concentrate on evaluating the candidate’s abilities.

Recruitment risks during the background check

The background check can assist enterprises in verifying a candidate’s qualifications. Common areas of verification include identification, criminal records, credit history, educational background, and employment history. When conducting background checks, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Authorization and notification: Verbal or written authorization from the candidate is essential. The enterprise should clearly communicate the scope of the background check and how personal information will be handled.
  • Proper control of information storage: The enterprise shall properly safeguard employee information to prevent unauthorized disclosure. Timely destruction of outdated information is crucial.
  • Verification of identification: Verify the candidate’s identity to ensure authenticity. Fake IDs are unacceptable.
  • Criminal record and credit check: The criminal and credit record should be verified by the candidates themselves. Checking credit records provides insights into a candidate’s financial status.
  • Education certificate verification: The education certificate granted by mainland China can be verified through the Center for Student Services and Development website. Overseas diploma verification is more challenging. Enterprises can explore multiple channels for overseas diploma verification, such as checking the university’s official website, consulting overseas academic degree accreditation agencies (such as ETC in the US and NARIC in the UK), utilizing the Ministry of Education’s overseas diploma accreditation system (primarily for Chinese students studying abroad), or even seeking assistance from Chinese embassies overseas.
  • Employment verification: This includes assessing employment reality, performance, competitive restriction, and mutual period of service. Referrers are HR and supervisors usually. Hiring candidates with valid restrictions may lead to legal consequences. It should also be noted that some candidates may exaggerate or fake their working experience, for example, hiding or merging working experiences, providing fake referrers, or colluding with the referrers. Employers should pay attention to such traps in employment verification.
  • Third-party background check: Professional third-party agencies can efficiently and accurately conduct background checks. Nevertheless, enterprises should note that they need to obtain authorization from the candidate for disclosure of personal information to a third party. The enterprise should clearly define the rights, obligations, and responsibilities of both parties regarding personal information protection in the service agreement with the third party.

Recruitment risks when giving offers

Before the formal labor contract is signed, enterprises typically issue either an oral offer or a written offer. While an offer cannot replace an employment contract, its content must comply with labor laws.

  • Offer content: A typical offer includes details such as the employment start and end dates, probation period, workplace, job title, working hours, salary, benefits, and other relevant information. The enterprise can specify an acceptance deadline in the offer. Additionally, the offer may be deemed invalid under certain circumstances, such as failed background checks, provision of fake information, or competitive restrictions.
  • Legal implication: Offers carry legal weight. Enterprises unilaterally withdrawing an offer may expose them to the risk of compensation claims. This is especially true if a candidate has resigned from their previous employer after accepting the offer and can demonstrate financial loss. Compensation may include one to three months’ salary based on the offer or the candidate’s previous salary, relocation expenses, travel costs, and other reasonable losses based on precedent cases.
  • Physical examination requirement: Enterprises can request a physical examination before delivering the offer to the candidate or after the candidate has accepted the offer. However, examinations of infectious diseases and pregnancy are prohibited.

On the other hand, when the enterprise declines the candidates’ application, some candidates may seek reasons for rejection. Enterprises should avoid providing reasons related to employment discrimination to prevent potential legal consequences.

Key takeaway

The recruitment process is closely associated with not only labor laws and regulations but also employment equality and personal information protection. A solid understanding of basic legal knowledge enables enterprises to mitigate compliance risks during the process.

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Dezan Shira & Associates assists foreign investors into China and has done so since 1992 through offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Haikou, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. We also have offices in Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, United States, Germany, Italy, India, and Dubai (UAE) and partner firms assisting foreign investors in The Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh, and Australia. For assistance in China, please contact the firm at or visit our website at