My friend Dan Harris writes on his China Law Blog:

China's Labor Contract Law (which law applies to every employment relationship in China) is very clear: employers must pay their employees for overtime.

Though there are some exceptions, these exceptions are not nearly as broad or as easy to obtain as is widely believed.

Overtime payments are 150 percent for each overtime hour worked on a normal work day, 200 percent for each overtime hour worked on a day off, and 300 percent for each overtime hour worked on a statutory holiday. China considers forty hours per week as generally considered standard.

Though high level management and other staff can be considered exempt from overtime pay, to be so, prior government approval is typically required. To make matters even more complicated, local regulations definitely can vary on what constitutes an exempt employee and what is required by way of approval.

My firm has handled around a half a dozen cases where foreign companies came to us after having been sued for having failed to pay overtime. In every single instance, our advice and eventual action was to settle the claims because they were all valid. Interestingly, despite all of them having been valid, we were able to settle them for considerably less than full value because the employees were so desirous of getting a lump sum payment and fast.

I thought of these cases today after a reader sent me a China Daily article entitled, "Labor Disputes Skyrocket in Beijing." The article talks about how "about 80,000 [Beijing] workers had been involved in disputes with their employers by the end of November, double the number of last year" and up from 26,000 disputes in 2007. The article then noted how "about 50 percent of the cases were related to overtime rates and payment" and the reader asked me if I had been seeing the same thing elsewhere in China with respect to foreign employers.

Read more at the link.