Model Cases on Procuratorial Agencies Fighting Against Criminal Refusal to Pay Labor Compensation (Mainland China)

Karl Zhang

On January16, 2020, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate called a press conference with “Punishing Malicious Withholding of Wages and Protecting the Rights and Interests of Farm Workers” as its theme.  In the conference, six model cases of procuratorial agencies fighting against refusal to pay labor compensation were announced.  The main ideas of those cases are as below:

1. Making good use of legal interpretations and reasoning

In three cases of refusal to pay wages involving Chen, Pu and Tang, and Sun, the case handlers explained the law to the individuals to notify them that their actions constitute a criminal offense, as well as inform them of the legal mechanism for leniency by admitting to the crime and paying off owed wages.  This allowed the workers to get paid and the defendants to receive lighter punishment for their timely rectification.

2. Actively detain suspects and conduct the necessary investigations

Equal attention should be paid to protecting private enterprises and entrepreneurs to actively push them to fulfill their payment obligations.  In one case involving a Chen who as a construction contractor refused to pay wages, the case handler actively caused the defendant to honor his payment obligation.  After the wages are paid in full, detention for requisite investigation is conducted, and changes made to the arrest measure.  Subcontractors were also contacted to resume work and minimize the economic loss suffered by the private enterprise and protect its rights.  In a case of failure to pay wages by Wu, arrest was put off to allow Wu to recover accounts receivable, while pushing Wu to complete the repayment plan and keeping those affected updated on the progress on recovering debts.  During the investigation and prosecution stage, Wu paid the remaining wages in arrears as promised and was forgiven by the victims, leading to a happy social result.

3. Implementing leniency policies

Procuratorial agencies shall fully exercise their power of investigation to resolve social conflicts.  In three cases of refusal to pay wages involving Wu, Wang and Chen, the defendants actively performed their obligation and completely paid off outstanding, and they were forgiven by those affected before the indictment process.  Given the limited harm to society, the procuratorial agencies decided to be lenient and not indict them.  In the cases involving, Pu, Tang and Sun, the procuratorial agencies explained the law, provided their reasoning to the defendants and clearly indicated that leniency would apply if they paid off all owed wages and admitted to their crimes.  After the defendants paid off the owed wages, the procuratorate proposed lighter sentences, such as a single fine or probation period, thereby thus carrying out the leniency policy.