Expecting in China: Employee Maternity Leave and Allowances

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By Dezan Shira & Associates
Editor: Weining Hu

The State Council released and implemented the Provisions on Female Labor Protection under Special Circumstances (State Council Decree No. 619) in 2012, which extended maternity leave for female employees in China to 14 weeks (98 days) from the previous 90 days-just meeting the minimum maternity leave stipulated by the International Labor Organization (ILO).

However, maternity leave in China can vary widely by location, especially in terms of ‘late maternity leave’ as determined by the local government. It can also be quite complex for an employer to calculate how much maternity leave and allowance that female employees are entitled to. In this article, we explain maternity and paternity leave in China and detail the payment of maternity allowances.

Prenatal check-up

Starting from the 12th week of pregnancy, a pregnant employee will need to go for an increasing number of prenatal check-ups, for which she is entitled to paid leave. These check-ups will be logged in the pregnancy handbook provided by the local Community Health Service Center.

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Length of paid maternity leave

A Chinese female employee may take a 98-day paid maternity leave beginning at her discretion 15 days prior to childbirth. Leave may be extended by 15 days under special circumstances such as dystocia. If the employee gives birth to more than one child at a time, an additional 15-day maternity leave shall be given for each additional infant.

In addition, a Chinese female employee who gives birth to her first child at age 24 or older is regarded as a case of ‘late childbirth,’ and is therefore entitled to an additional ‘late maternity leave’ of roughly 30 days (this may vary widely by location, e.g. 45 days in Dalian).

After the abolition of the one-child policy in late 2015, many provinces changed the wording of ‘late maternity leave’ to ‘maternity rewards leave’ (生育奖励假). Despite the change of title, leave days remained the same in most provinces. However, as leave days and related policies vary by province, it is recommended to look up specific regulations with the relevant local authorities.

A foreign employee may also take a 98-day paid maternity leave, but is not eligible for late maternity leave. It should be noted that the 98-day leave includes working days, weekends, and national holidays, while the late maternity leave includes only working days and weekends.

Abortion and miscarriage

Furthermore, no less than 15 days of maternity leave shall be offered in cases of abortion after a pregnancy shorter than four months, and no less than six weeks of maternity leave in cases of miscarriage/abortion after a pregnancy longer than four months.

Maternity allowance

During maternity leave, a female employee shall receive a maternity allowance in lieu of salary. Generally, a Chinese female employee (assuming that the employee has participated in maternity insurance) is paid by the Social Security Bureau where the woman is registered. In determining the amount of maternity allowance, the Social Security Bureau will look at the employee’s monthly salary and the average monthly salary of all employees over the last 12 months.

The Bureau will pay whichever amount is higher, but no more than three times the average salary in the Bureau’s jurisdiction. In certain parts of China, such as Beijing and Shanghai, any amount above three times the local average must be paid by the employer. For example, the average monthly salary in Shanghai in 2015 was RMB 5,939, making the benchmark maternity allowance in Shanghai RMB 5,939 × 3 = RMB 17,817.

Comparing three different scenarios:

Maternity leave China

The maternity allowance shall also apply to foreign employees who have contributed to the maternity insurance scheme. Foreign and Chinese employees not participating in maternity insurance shall receive their full salary paid by the company.

Breast-feeding period

A female employee shall also be granted at least one hour each day during work hours for breast-feeding during a one-year ‘breast-feeding period.’ In practice, companies tend to ask employees to work a full eight-hour day, and allow them to accumulate the extra hour toward vacation time. Most female employees prefer this approach as well.

Paternity leave

The amount of time that a male employee can take as paternity leave largely depends on where the individual is registered for social security. In general, China’s statutory paternity leave does not exceed two weeks (14 days). For example, in Shanghai, according to the newest Shanghai Population and Family Planning Regulations promulgated in 2016, a male employee is entitled to a ten-day paternity leave in the case of late childbirth, seven days more than the old regulation. In Shenzhen, a male employee can enjoy a 15-day paternity leave if his wife is 23 or older.

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Terminating a pregnant employee

In China, it is illegal to terminate a pregnant employee during her pregnancy, maternity leave, or breast-feeding period (which lasts until the infant is a year old). Further, if an employee gets pregnant during the term of her fixed-term contract, and the contract ends during the pregnancy, the contract shall be automatically extended (through a renewed end date or a second contract) until the end of the breast-feeding period.

For a consultation on the implications for your business of China’s statutes on maternity leave and allowances, please contact the HR and payroll professionals of Dezan Shira & Associates at dalian@dezshira.com.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on November 11, 2014, and has been updated to include the latest regulatory changes.


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Dezan Shira & Associates is a full service practice in China, providing business intelligence, due diligence, legal, tax, IT, HR, payroll, and advisory services throughout the China and Asian region. For assistance with China business issues or investments into China, please contact us at china@dezshira.com or visit us at www.dezshira.com

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10 thoughts on “Expecting in China: Employee Maternity Leave and Allowances

    Byung Koo Mulder says:

    Dear Weining Hu, great article. I just have a question, could you provide me or send me link where I find extended version of “The State Council released and implemented the Provisions on Female Labor Protection under Special Circumstances (State Council Decree No. 619) in 2012”- where is stated about 98 days and also where is stated that “Foreign and Chinese employees not participating in maternity insurance shall receive their full salary paid by the company.” – I think especially the last part is not known by Chinese HR and companies in China. Thank you. Best regards!

    China Briefing says:


    The 98 day stipulation and maternity payment details can be found in this document (in Chinese): http://www.gov.cn/flfg/2012-05/07/content_2131582.htm
    Please refer to Article 7 for the 98 day maternity leave and Article 9 for maternity payment.

    If you have any more questions, please contact our HR specialists here: http://www.dezshira.com/services/payroll-human-resource-administration

    Amanda says:

    I cannot find where it says this applies to foreigners. My company says this applies only to Chinese nationals and not foreigners. Is there a document that states this clearly?

    Stephen says:

    Are Foreign Males currently able to enjoy 10 Days Paternity Leave in Shanghai?

    China Briefing says:

    Hello Amanda,

    The rules generally apply to all employees who meet the criteria, regardless of nationality. However, particulars specific to foreign employees may affect certain aspects, such as past contributions to maternity insurance schemes.

    For more information, please contact our HR specialists: https://www.dezshira.com/services/payroll-human-resource-administration

    China Briefing says:

    Hello Stephen,

    Because paternity leave falls under China’s family planning legislation, its application to foreigners is unclear and dependent on local interpretation. We recommend that you read your company’s employee handbook for guidance on your company’s treatment of paternity leave.

    For more information, please contact our HR specialists here: https://www.dezshira.com/services/payroll-human-resource-administration

    Deepa says:


    Please let me know if paternity leave is mandatory in China and if yes, which specific law gives this detail.

    China Briefing says:

    Hello Deepa,

    Paternity leave rules are included in provincial family planning legislation, so they vary region to region. It is mandatory for businesses to adhere to local paternity leave rules.

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