Renowned Chinese beverage company causes anger for controversial recruitment requirements

By Huang Lanlan Source: Global Times Published: 2020/8/20 19:23:20

The gate of Coconut Palm company (photo: screenshot of a Jilin TV Station video)

A renowned Chinese beverage producer sparked public outrage on Thursday for its controversial recruitment advertisement, which required employees to work for the company for life and give up their families.

Coconut Palm - one of China's most popular beverage brands with more than 30 years of history - reportedly published an advertisement online on Wednesday with the aim of recruiting 40 people that it would train into professional managers. However, qualified candidates were required to meet two conditions: devote themselves (including giving up time with their family) to work, and work for the company for their entire lives, according to the ad.

The company even asked candidates to pledge their houses as security for the "lifetime" promise. "A candidate should hand in his/her house if they deceive to leave someday," read the ad.

Coconut Palm confirmed the recruitment to the Global Times on Thursday. The company does require that the 40 future managers work for life on house guarantees, said an HR staffer, surnamed Luo, adding that those who have no house for collateral "should not apply for the job."

The company claimed in the ad that it would offer the 40 employees with "liberal" salaries and benefits of up to 1-million yuan ($144,674) in yearly salary, stock options and sea-view apartments.

Nonetheless, the recruitment campaign caused a stir on Chinese social media, with many netizens criticizing it as inhumane. 

"The company is not looking for employees, but slaves," grumbled one Weibo user on Thursday, adding that a well-known enterprise like Coconut Palm should be accustomed to the natural flow of employees, instead of toughly holding them in the palm of their hand.

Legal experts claimed the recruitment campaign is illegitimate, saying it had violated China's Labor Laws.

According to Chinese Labor Law, an employee may dissolve their labor contract if they notify the employer in writing 30 days in advance, said lawyer Zhang Bo. "It makes no sense for Coconut Palm to threaten its employees to work for life on house guarantees," he told the Global Times Thursday.

What's more, requiring employees to sacrifice their family time for work is against the principle of combing exertion and rest, of which the Labor Law advocates, Zhang said. 

Any labor contracts signed based on this recruitment, as a result, will be considered invalid, Zhang said, suggesting the local labor department step in and order the company to rectify the ad.

The recruitment ad was said to have been originally published on Wednesday on the WeChat account of Hainan HR market, which is in the charge of Hainan HR authority. The ad was no longer accessible to the public on Thursday, the Global Times reporter found.

A staffer with the market told the Global Times on Thursday the ad was deleted as it "might have violated the [labor] rules."

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