Lihui Jiang and Teresa Huang
On May 16, 2022, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate released the fifth batch of the “Procuratorial Work for the People” – Series of Typical Cases Administrative Procuratorial Work for the People’s. In particular, Case N.4 has a warning effect on the issue of an enterprise paying the social insurance premiums for its employees since this was an administrative procuratorial supervision case in which an individual surnamed Zhu sued the Human Resources and Social Security Bureau of a certain city in Hubei Province for a work injury determination. This case is highlighted below:
As an employee of a certain industrial trading company limited in a certain city (hereinafter, the “Company”), an individual surnamed Zhu was injured due to the operation errors of another person and was judicially determined to suffer from a ninth-degree disability, but he did not apply for a work injury determination within the statutory period. In September 2015, he applied for labor arbitration, and in October of the same year, the Municipal Labor and Human Resources Dispute Arbitration Committee rendered an award, which compelled the Company to pay a wage of RMB 2,965.50 to Zhu for his annual leave and to supplement his retirement insurance premiums and his medical insurance premiums for a total of RMB 27,692. However, since the application period for a work injury examination was exceeded, no award was made for work injury compensation. In December of the same year, Zhu filed a civil lawsuit with a court for the disputes over the liability for the injury suffered by the labor service provider. The first instance and second instance courts both upheld his claim in the first instance and second instance trial. Later, the Company applied for a retrial, and the retrial court dismissed the lawsuit on the grounds that Zhu had not applied for a work injury determination, that the work injury compensation dispute had not been arbitrated by a labor dispute arbitration committee, and that he could not directly file a lawsuit with the people’s court.
In May 2017, Zhu applied to the Human Resources and Social Security Bureau of the city (hereinafter, the “Bureau”) for a work injury determination, but the application was not accepted since the statutory one-year period had been exceeded. Dissatisfied, Zhu brought an administrative action to request the court to revoke the Bureau’s decision on rejection. The first instance, second instance, and retrial courts all held that since the work injury determination application exceeded the statutory period, the Bureau’s decision not to accept the application was not inappropriate, and Zhu’s litigation claim was dismissed.
[Performance of the procuratorial organ]
Out of dissatisfaction with the court decisions, Zhu applied to the Municipal People’s Procuratorate for supervision. The procuratorate found that the Company did not pay work injury insurance premiums for the employee, but since Zhu did not apply for a work injury determination in a timely manner, the courts’ administrative decisions are not improper, and the supervision application was not supported on such a basis. However, in light of the reasonableness of Zhu’s substantive claims, the procuratorial organ resolved the conflict with a combination of public hearings and remedies of substantive rights to resolve the conflict.
The procuratorial organ found in the case that the Bureau failed to promptly urge the employer to purchase work injury insurance for the employees, and issued a procuratorial recommendation to the Bureau to recommend that the Bureau enhance the supervision of social insurance premium collection, concentrate the supervision on private and micro enterprises, and promote full insurance participation when the continuation of the insurance obtained by the participating employer units is secured.
The Bureau replied and adopted the procuratorial recommendation and carried out a city-wide special supervision on the “insurance premium payment status of small and micro enterprises” in conjunction with the Medical Insurance Bureau and the Taxation Bureau, auditing 5,129 insured employer units with annual contribution base, 395 new insured employer units, and 5,899 new insured persons. The Bureau also worked with the Market Supervision and Administration Bureau to optimize the social security registration system and concurrently register the social insurance status of enterprises seeking registration to promote full insurance participation.
The state has established a work injury insurance system, but in reality, some employers do not pay work injury insurance premiums for their employees as required, and workers are unable to defend their legal rights and interests for a lack of legal awareness and knowledge. When handling administrative supervision cases related to a work injury, the procuratorial authorities should substantively resolve administrative disputes to protect the legitimate rights and interests of the parties. Meanwhile, human resources and social security departments should be supervised to enhance the collection of social insurance premiums and safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of workers to achieve the effect of “comprehensive governance by handling a single case.”