The hot spell persisting across China has raised concerns over the welfare of the country's outdoor workers, as reports surfaced that some employees have been denied their lawful rights during the extreme weather.
Outdoor workers including couriers, air conditioner setters have been suffering temperatures of more than 40 degrees Celsius without any rest or subsidies, such as extra pay, which they are entitled to.
"We are actually busier these days than usual," said an express company employee based in Hangzhou, an eastern Chinese city that has experienced hot weather since July.
In southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, some construction workers have to work overtime early in the morning and late at night to avoid the hottest hours during the day, according to Kang Houming, the head of a bituminous mixing plant of the city.
The highest temperatures of Hangzhou and Chongqing climbed to 41 and 40 degrees Celsius, respectively, on Tuesday.
High temperatures have been baking the country's southern regions including Zhejiang, Hunan, Anhui, Fujian, Jiangxi provinces and Chongqing Municipality since the beginning of July. Meteorological authorities forecast the heat will last until the middle of August.
According to the country's regulation of heat control published in 2012, no outdoor work should be carried out when the temperature is above 40 degrees Celsius. The cumulative time for working outdoors should be no longer than 6 hours when the temperature reaches 37 degrees Celsius, said Xia Jiapin, a lawyer of Brighteous Law Firm in Zhejiang.
Some companies have offered paid leave to their workers.
Employees of Hangzhou West Lake Electronic Company in Zhejiang were given 10 days off from July 26 to Aug. 4 with full salary and subsidies.
"We can use the time to maintain equipment, it's actually a win-win deal," said Zhang Guojing, CEO of the company.
However, after surveying the legal rights for outdoor workers, Zhu Jianwei, head of the Labor Protection Department with the Hangzhou Municipal Federation of Trade Unions, said, "Problems have been found in some enterprises in the city.
"Workers are asked to work extra hours in extreme heat on some construction sites, some companies have skipped on subsidies, and facilities for heat insulation and air ventilation were found to be below the standard in some high temperature workshops."
State-owned businesses offered better welfare than private enterprises, according to Wei Shouyang, head of the Labor Protection Department with the Chongqing Municipal Federation of Trade Unions.
"To maximize their profits, owners of private companies are more likely to neglect regulations. Most employees, especially migrant rural workers, lack awareness of protecting their rights. They are too afraid to question their employers," Wei said. "Some even got fired after they complained."