Female Employees to Receive Greater Benefits, Special Working Conditions

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Nov. 22 – Female employees in China may receive greater maternity benefits in the future, including longer maternity leave, as well as special working conditions and expanded health care coverage, according to the new “Provisions on Female Labor Protection under Special Circumstances (Draft for Public Opinions)” disclosed by the Legislative Affairs Office of China’s State Council yesterday.

Longer maternity leave
Compared to the 90-day maternity leave under the existing law, the new Draft Provisions suggest the duration of maternity leave be extended to 14 weeks, including a two-week long prenatal leave. In cases of dystocia, an additional two-week maternity leave shall be allowed and in case of a multiple-child birth, an additional two-week maternity leave shall be given for each additional infant.

Furthermore, no less than two-weeks maternity leave shall be offered in cases of a(n) miscarriage/abortion after a shorter than four month-term pregnancy, and no less than six-weeks maternity leave shall be given in cases of a(n) miscarriage/abortion after a longer than four-month pregnancy.

Better working conditions
The Draft Provisions also specify better working conditions for female employees.

Pregnant women will be able to ask for a lesser work load and working position adjustments, and will also be protected by the law from working over-time or at night during the period when they are pregnant for over seven months, or feeding their less than one-year-old babies.

In addition, the Draft Provisions provide a list of jobs and working conditions women are forbidden to be subject to in general, or under certain circumstances.

  • In general, female workers shall not be hired to conduct mining operations or any other operations where the labor intensity exceeds the durable standard specified in the Draft Provisions.
  • A female employee during her menstruation shall be protected from engaging in cold water operations, low temperature operations, and highly labor-intensive operations that exceed bearable legal standards stipulated in the Draft Provisions.
  • A female employee during her pregnancy shall be kept from working environments with poisonous or harmful chemicals and operations at height, in cold water, in low/high temperatures, in noisy environments, or with high labor intensity. Actual standards for those work conditions are detailed in the Draft Provisions.

Use of maternity insurance
A female employee during her maternity leave will receive a maternity allowance – with the amount equaling the average monthly salary of all company employees during the previous year – from the social maternity insurance fund. However, if an employer does not buy the maternity insurance for its employees, it shall keep paying the employee her current monthly salary during her maternity leave.

The medical care costs associated with giving birth or miscarriage shall also be covered by the social maternity insurance fund. However, the costs shall be paid by the employer if it has not purchased maternity insurance for its employees.

Other recently-issued draft regulations further emphasized the government’s plan to make maternity insurance a mandatory social welfare payment for employers, together with the other four types of social insurance contributions.

Greater health care
The Draft Provisions emphasized that the time a pregnant female employee spends on prenatal medical checks during the work day shall be paid as normal working hours.

During her breast-feeding period, female workers shall be granted no less than one hour everyday during work hours for breast-feeding. In cases where the female worker has a multiple-child birth, an additional breast-feeding hour shall be offered for every additional baby.

An employer shall also arrange gynecological exams for all its female employees at least once every two years, and the exam time shall be counted as work hours.

Legal liabilities
An employer that violates the Provisions shall be fined between RMB1,000 and RMB5,000 for every female employee whose labor rights are infringed upon. Employers could also face other legal charges.

The Draft Provisions are open for public opinions before December 23, 2011. Opinions can be voiced through the following avenues:

  • Via Internet: Post opinions in the “Opinion Collection System for Draft Regulations” at www.chinalaw.gov.cn
  • Via mail: Send opinions to
    Mailbox 2067,
    Beijing, 100035, PRC
    and specify “Collection of opinions on ‘Provisions on Female Labor Protection under Special Circumstances’” on the envelope
  • Via E-mail: Send opinions to nzg@chinalaw.gov.cn

Dezan Shira & Associates is a boutique professional services firm providing foreign direct investment business advisory, tax, accounting, payroll and due diligence services for multinational clients in China, Hong Kong, Vietnam and India. For further information or clarification on China’s social insurance or HR policies, please email china@dezshira.com.

This article is also available on Dezan Shira & Associates’ online business resource library. To view the article, and other regulatory updates, please click here.

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6 thoughts on “Female Employees to Receive Greater Benefits, Special Working Conditions

    May says:

    Are all provisions on this draft/law applicable to female expat employees?
    If not, which portions are applicable?

    May says:

    Specifically, I would like to know if the paid maternity leave and paid pre-natal check-up are applicable to female expat employees.

    Thanks and I look forward to your reply.

    Hazel Wang says:

    Dear May,

    Thank you for the questions and sorry for the late reply due to the National Day.

    First of all, we would like to share with you that (“Provision”) took effect on April 28, 2012, which is almost the same with the draft you knew here.

    Secondly, the Provision stipulates that the state organs, enterprises, public institutions, social organizations, individual economic organizations and other social organizations and their female employees within the territory of the P.R.C. are applicable.

    From our legal understanding to this Article, it does not exclude the foreign female employees.

    In addition, we have seen many local regulations, which requires the employers to pay the social insurance (including maternity insurance, etc.) for foreign employees. So, on the policy level, the payment for the maternity leave and medical care costs when giving birth or miscarriage to foreign female employees are also protected.

    One the practice point of view, according to our inquiry with Beijing Labor Bureau, the regulations/detailed procedure on “how the foreign employees enjoy/apply for the payment or costs above related” did not come out.

    Best regards,

    David says:

    how many days of vacation for men after his wife gives birth?

    David says:

    Is it true that women has one hour free par day during first year after birth?

    Dear David,

    The amount of time that a male employee can enjoy as paternity leave depends on the area. Both maternity and paternity are administered locally in various cities and the policies are different. I have not come across any city where the statutory period exceeds two weeks, and many cities are shorter than this.

    Concerning the shorter working hours per day regulation, yes there is such a regulation in force. In practice, what companies tend to do is to ask the employee to work a full eight hour day, but the extra hour that they are working each day is accumulated and provided to them as an extra vacation day once the amount of hours reaches eight. Most female employees prefer to handle in this way as well.

    I hope this information is useful to you.

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