Work Cover In Australia versus China
One time, In China, Guangzhou, when my girlfriend showed me a work injury she had sustained hours earlier, it gave occasion to observe the differences in work culture between China and The West.
The Chinese Workplace Injury Example
She said, “Look. I injured my finger at work.”
Sarcastically, I asked, “Did you get any time off work for that? You can claim worker’s compensation.”
She frowned, “Worker’s compensation? What is that?”
I explained, “In Australia, if you sustain an injury at work, you are entitled to worker’s compensation. That means that while you are injured until your work-related injury improves, you can take paid time off work. You will even be paid compensation if it is a more serious injury.”
She grinned at me, “No, I didn’t get anything like that in China.”
The Australian Workplace Injury Example
I told her, “I injured my hand in a machine at work one time. I was given an entitlement of two-week’s compensation, and was given the option to return to work. The law protects me from losing my job due to workplace injury.”
I was emphasizing the difference between worker’s compensation in Australia versus China.
China does not have this concept of Worker’s Compensation yet. There seem to be no protections in place in China for workers who become injured while on their job site.
If you get injured at work, then it is tough luck. You have to wear that injury. If you get crippled, tough luck, you have to wear that injury. Tough luck if you have to try to prove it to somebody.
It was all tongue-in-cheek banter between us, but the underlying issue of Chinese workers who have no work cover protections provided either by their company or in statutes enshrined by the Chinese government to protect people like her, and how public awareness of workplace health and safety rights is not advocated in China, is a serious one.
The Value Of Hard Work In Chinese Society
To me, there was a real cultural difference in the decisions people in Chinese society make about the value of hard work.
It was interesting because when my girlfriend hired people to move her furniture, I saw she advertised a promotion for the moving company on her WeChat Moments.
I thought, “Wow! That is what Chinese people think is a really good moving company?”
In Australia that would be completely unlawful and unacceptable work practice.
Australian workplace laws make it illegal for an individual worker to carry more than 25 kilograms unassisted. You would need the help of more people, or you would need to hire more casual labor, otherwise, you cannot move the heavy item.
In Australia, no one would accept a worker to carry a strapped fridge on their back. It is just utter stupidity for any person who tries to do that, because they could hurt their back.
But in China, this is seen as another way for a company to market themselves as more hard-working than their competition.
It is hard to believe, but it is true.
The author of Diary Of A Mad Chaos from 1996 to 2018, The Lost Years book, Wubao In China (猎艳奇缘) book series, and Foreigner (华人) an exploration of race relations in Australia. Fluent in Chinese Mandarin, Macedonian, and English, the author currently resides in China, Guangzhou where he continues to make comparative analysis of the cultural differences between Eastern and Western societies.