Protect yourself, know your rights
If a foreigner working in the Chinese entertainment industry gets injured or encounters rights infringements, what can they do to protect their rights? There are so many moving parts to this topic, and many foreigners are either unaware of their rights regarding these issues or are afraid to speak up and have them enforced.
This issue came to the fore last year when a foreign entrant in an international modeling competition died. It came up again recently when I spoke to a foreign actor working legally in China who was injured on set last year.
The actor said he was initially unaware of the proper course of action to take following the incident.
It is alleged that the production company was at fault for not properly training other actors in a fight sequence that resulted in two broken ribs, several months of missed work, and expensive medical bills.
“The labor law applies to all workers, regardless of national- ity. You just need to prove that the accident happened while at work and show proof of lost income or costs related to the injury. China is pretty clear on work regulations and has plenty of laws protecting workers’ rights,” the actor said.
He seems to think that foreigners are at fault for either being ignorant of the laws that govern them or for allowing themselves to be taken advantage of, as many of them, unlike himself, are working here illegally and willing to tolerate a lot more shenanigans because they are afraid of being deported. I asked him what a foreign actor should do if they get injured on set. He said the best thing you can do is get complete documentation from the hospital. Everything needs to be recorded when it happens, and they need to keep all the paperwork. If the doctor says they can’t work for a certain amount of time, they need to get him or her to add that to the medical notes. They also need to message whoever is the highest authority at their place of work as soon as it happens and get them to acknowledge it. The individual should also take photos of the injury as soon as it happens as well as any surrounding areas to substantiate their claim. The judge will want evidence that it happened on set, and photos and screenshots are great proof, he said. In sum, know your rights, document everything right away and most importantly, be careful out there!