Affected by the pandemic, many enterprises have suffered heavy blows to their daily production and operation order and even have to suspend production or business due to pandemic prevention and control measures or local outbreaks of major epidemics. As a result, enterprises tend to let their employees take leave or wait for job assignment to get through the difficulties. However, in accordance with the relevant national and local labor laws and regulations, if the employees do not provide labor for the enterprises during the leave and pending assignment period, the enterprises shall still bear the responsibility of employers and pay them appropriate living expenses. This article intends to briefly interpret the issues of when an enterprise shall pay living expenses to an employee during the period of pending assignment and the amount of living expenses that should be paid.
When shall living expenses be paid?
If the enterprise's production and suspension continue for more than one wage payment period and the employees fail to provide normal work as a result of suspension not attributable to employees, the enterprise shall pay living expenses to the employees from the second wage payment period.
Where the employees are re-employed or the employees continue to work normally after the enterprise resumes its work, the enterprise shall stop paying expenses and pay remuneration in accordance with relevant provisions.
What is the standard of living expenses paid by enterprises to employees?
Firstly, due to the impact of the pandemic on the normal production and operation order, the living expenses paid by enterprises to their employees may be lower than the local minimum wage standards.
其次，具体生活费标准依据各省、自治区、直辖市所制定标准不同而有不同下限要求。Secondly, specific standards of living expenses are subject to different minimum standards based on the standards of different provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the Central Government.具体而言，全国各省份（除西藏、宁夏省份以外）生活费标准可参照如下表格：Specifically, the standard of living expenses in all provinces (excluding Tibet and Ningxia) shall refer to the following table:
Specific Standards for the Payment of Living Expenses
Not lower than the local minimum wage standard
Shanghai, Tianjin and Hainan
Not lower than 80% of the minimum wage standard
Guangdong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Henan, Hebei, Hunan, Guangxi, Gansu, Shanxi and Inner Mongolia
Not less than 75% of minimum wage standard
Not less than 70% of the minimum wage standard
Beijing, Anhui, Shandong, Sichuan, Liaoning, Hubei, Fujian, Chongqing, Qinghai, Jilin, Jiangxi, Xinjiang and Heilongjiang
Not less than 60% of the minimum wage standard
*The current policy in Yunnan Province is to pay living expenses according to the rules and regulations of enterprises or the standard specified in the collective contract or the employment contract.
Latest National Minimum Wage by Province in 2022
The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security ("MOHRSS") recently released the minimum wage standards for all provinces nationwide (by April 1, 2022) may refer to the following table:
(Source: Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security website)
【相关法律条款】[Relevant Legal Provisions]
Article 58 of<Opinions on Several Issues concerning the Implementation of the Labor Law of the People's Republic of China>(Lao Bu Fa  No. 309):“Enterprises shall pay living expenses to their laid-off personnel in accordance with the relevant provisions of the local government. The living expenses may be lower than the minimum wage standard. Where the laid-off personnel are re-employed, the enterprises shall stop the payment of their living expenses.”
2. 《工资支付暂行规定》(劳部发〔1994〕489号)第十二条:“非因劳动者原因造成单位停工、停产在一个工资支付周期内的，用人单位应按劳动合同规定的标准支付劳动者工资。超过一个工资支付周期的，若劳动者提供了正常劳动，则支付给劳动者的劳动报酬不得低于当地的最低工资标准；若劳动者没有提供正常劳动，应按国家有关规定办理。”Article 12 of < Tentative Provisions on Payment of Wages> (Lao Bu Fa  No.489): “Where an employer ceases operation or ceases production in a wage payment period for reasons other than those due to the labourers, the employer shall pay the wages of labourers in accordance with the standards stipulated in the labour contract. Where such situation continues for more than one wage payment period: if labourers have worked as normal, the labour compensation paid to such labourers must not be less than the local minimum wage standard; and if the labourers have not worked as normal, the matter shall be handled in accordance with relevant State provisions.”
Article 2 of < Notice of the General Office of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security on Properly Handling Labor Relation Issues during the Period for Prevention and Control of the Novel Coronavirus-infected Pneumonia Epidemic> (Ren She Ting Fa Ming Dian  No.5):“Where an enterprise has difficulties in production and operation due to the impact of epidemic, it may stabilize posts by adjusting salaries, rotating posts and taking holidays, shortening working hours or other means through negotiating with employees and by reaching an agreement, so as to avoid or reduce layoffs to the greatest extent. Qualified enterprises may enjoy the Employment Stabilizing Subsidy as required. Where an enterprise suspends production or business for a period less than a wage payment cycle, the enterprise shall pay wages to its employees pursuant to the standards stipulated in the employment contracts. Where the suspension exceeds a wage payment cycle and the employee has provided normal labour services, the wage paid by the enterprise to the employee shall not be less than the local minimum wage standard. If an employee does not provide normal work, the enterprise must pay his/her living expenses. The standard for living expenses shall be implemented in accordance with the measures stipulated by the various provinces, autonomous regions and centrally administered municipalities.”