Annual leave in China
When hiring employees in China, it is crucial for foreign businesses and employers to know the different kinds of leaves they must provide to ensure compliance with local and national law This article will discuss the various types of leaves that are applicable to employees in China.
What is the Minimum Level of Annual Statutory Leave and How is it Managed?
Statutory leave pertains to the minimum number of paid holidays that almost all employees are entitled to take annually. The It is usually based on the tenure and level of experience of the employee as described in the table below:
As shown in the table, an employee whose tenure of less than a year is not entitled to statutory leave. However, China is one of the most generous countries in awarding paid annual leave to employees. Rather than interpreting the table as applicable only to the current employer, it is generally based on the employee’s overall work experience or tenure, including the work years from past and present employers.
Statutory leaves do not include public holidays, rest days, or any holiday declared by the Chinese government.
If an employee has worked for a new employer for less than a year, their annual leave can be computed as follows:
Amount of annual statutory leaves = (The number of days the employee will be working for the current employer in the year) / 365 days x (The employee’s total statutory annual leave in the same year based on their overall work years)
How is Untaken Leave Treated?
Untaken statutory leaves are usually carried over to the next year. However, employers set a deadline for when this is applicable.
Generally, employees are required to spend their leftover leaves from the previous year before the current work year ends. If employees voluntarily decide not to spend their remaining leaves by the deadline, they are normally required to sign a written agreement to avoid possible future disputes.
However, if the employee decides not to carry over the untaken leaves and there is no prior agreement with the employer regarding the matter, their employer must pay them at least 200% of their daily wage for each unused leave. So, for instance, if an employee has 10 remaining leaves, they will be paid twice their average daily wage for each of the 10 statutory leaves.
Major Types of Leaves in China
The minimum number of sick leaves given to employees vary per provincial and municipal regulations. It gives employers more control in deciding how many paid sick leaves they want to give their employees per year.
However, there are laws in China regarding the employee’s recuperation period. An employer cannot terminate the employee on leave due to non-occupational sickness or injury. Additionally, the law requires employers to pay a portion of the sick employee’s salary.
In Beijing, the recuperation period is computed based on whether the employee has worked for the last 10 years and the years they have worked for their current employer.
Those who have worked for less than five years in their current company are entitled to a three-month recuperation period if their cumulative working years are less than five years.
However, if their cumulative working years are greater than 10 years, even if they have worked for less than five years for their current employer, they are entitled to up to six months of recuperation leave.
In Shanghai, the minimum recuperation period implemented is three months. One month is added to this period for each year of the employee’s service to the company from the second year onward. The total allowed recuperation period cannot exceed 24 months.
Maternity Leave / Prenatal Check-ups
In China, leaves for pregnant women vary per region, depending on what the local government imposes. But as part of the general guidelines, employees in their 12th week of pregnancy onwards are entitled to get paid leaves for their prenatal checkups.
Maternity leaves in China consists two parts:
- The leaves given to employees based on the Provisions on Female Labor Protection under Special Circumstances (State Council Decree No. 619).
- The extra leaves granted by the local government according to their local family planning regulations.
Women are entitled to 98 days of maternity leave if they had a normal childbirth. However, this can be extended by another 15 days under certain circumstances. For cases of multiple childbirth, an additional 15 days per infant is granted.
Employees can start their maternity leave as early as 15 days prior to their expected due date.
In case of abortion or miscarriage, employees are given a 15-day maternity leave if the pregnancy lasted not longer than four months and a 42-day leave for those that carried the baby for four months or more.
The government enforces the basic 98-day maternity leave throughout the country. However, the extra maternity leave for special cases varies per city. For example, in Beijing and Shanghai, the local extra maternity leave is 60 days, while in Hainan and Jiangxi, the extra leave is up to 90 days.
Lactation & Breast-feeding Leave
A breastfeeding employee will be granted at least a one-hour paid leave per day for breastfeeding during work hours. This is effective up to a year after giving birth.
Unlike maternity leave, paternity leave does not have related national legislation that defines the number of time offs that men are entitled to.
Instead, paternity leave benefits are based on local family planning regulations at the municipal or provincial level. Still, employers can grant more leaves beyond the 15-30 days of paternity leave that is provided in most regions in China.
Parental leave is given to parent employees who need to provide care and support for children under a certain age.
Also called childcare leave, parental leave is fairly new in China. It was introduced in 2021 to boost childbirth and support home-based childcare services.
Take note, though, that not all provinces have a mandatory parental leave policy.
Generally, the leave given ranges from five to 20 days until the child reaches three years old. In the province of Chongqing, parents are given five to 10 days of leave each until the child reaches six years old. The Shaanxi province is also drafting a policy that will extend parental leave to 30 days per year for each parent until the child reaches the age of three.
In its effort to support childbirth, China has given newlyweds marriage leaves.
On the national level, there is no clear law on how many days at the minimum can be given to newly married couples. However, local governments usually mandate companies under their jurisdiction to give at least three days of leave.
The Gansu and Shanxi regions are the most generous, allowing up to 30 days of marriage leave to newlyweds.
When a parent, spouse, or child of an employee dies, they are entitled to a paid bereavement leave. The bereavement leave may vary from one to three days, depending on local and employer regulations.
Paid Leave to Take Care of Sick Parents
Employees who are the only children in their families are entitled to fully paid leaves so they can take care of their parents. A number of provinces allow employees to take time-offs of around 10 to 20 days annually to take care of sick parents.
Final Thoughts on Paid Leaves in China
China is one of the most generous countries in the world when it comes to paid leaves. Chinese Labor Laws are very amicable to employees. This is evident in the different types of paid time-offs offered by companies.
For employers, the number of leaves to consider can be challenging.
Aside from the national regulations, each region in China has different laws on leaves that businesses have to follow. Non-compliance can result in labor disputes that can be detrimental to business operations and brand reputation.
If you are planning on establishing a business in China, it is essential that you aware of the laws and regulations on paid annual leaves. To ensure compliance throughout each stage of the corporate set-up process, contact our team today and make use of our expertise on local and national employment laws in China.
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