Following the promulgation of the three-child policy on 31 May 2021, multiple local Chinese governments amended their family-related leave policies to address the decreased fertility rate and aging of the population.
Family-related leave regulations have been amended in multiple provinces and municipalities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Guangdong, Zhejiang and Chongqing. New regulations vary across the regions with a majority of them increasing maternity leave entitlements, as well as introducing parental and carer’s leaves.
On 31 May 2021, the Chinese government passed legislation amending family leave policies to allow married couples to have up to three children instead of only one child, which was previously the case.
In support of this major policy shift, referred to as “the three-child policy”, many local governments amended their family planning legislation with expanded family leave entitlements.
Multiple provinces and municipalities in China have recently amended their family leave policies. The article will however focus on the following provinces:
- Maternity leave: Maternity leave has been extended from 128 days to 158 days (weekends and public holidays included) for births on or after 26 November 2021. Basic maternity leave is 98 days and the remaining 60 days may be shared between both parents, subject to employer’s approval. An additional 1 to 3 months of maternity leave may be granted, subject to employer’s approval. The leave is at full pay (up to CNY 28,221 by the social security and the remaining by the employer) and can be extended if the birth is difficult or there are complications.
- Paternity leave: 15 days (if the mother voluntarily reduces the extended maternity leave, the paternity leave can be increased by the corresponding number of days).
- Carer’s leave: 10 calendar days of leave for employees who are an only child and whose parents need care.
- Parental leave (child care leave): From 26 November 2021, parental leave is a minimum of five working days and a maximum of 10 days for each parent, until each of their children reaches age 3. Parental leave is fully paid by the employer. Child care or parental leave is a yearly entitlement (not calculated in calendar years, but in anniversaries from the birth of a child). Any unused leave at the end of the anniversary year is lost.
- Maternity leave: From 1 December 2021, maternity leave has been extended from 128 days to 178 days (98 days of basic maternity leave, plus 80 days of extended leave).
- Paternity leave: 10 days.
- Carer’s leave: Five days per year (15 days per year in the case of hospitalization) for an employee who is the only child of their parents.
- Parental leave (child care leave): From 1 December 2021, parental leave is 10 working days (employer-paid) for each parent, per year and until the child reaches age 3. It is not clear whether the leave entitled is calculated in calendar years or anniversaries from the birthday of a child).
- Maternity leave: Maternity leave has been extended from 128 days to 158 days for births on or after 25 November 2021. The basic maternity leave of 98 days includes weekends and public holidays while the remaining 60 days don’t. Maternity leave is fully funded by the government and the employer.
- Paternity leave: 10 days.
- Carer’s leave: None.
- Parental leave (child care leave): From 25 November 2021, parental leave is five days (employer-paid) for each parent, until each of their children age 3. Child care or parental leave is a yearly entitlement (not calculated in calendar years, but in anniversaries from the birth of a child). Any unused leave at the end of the anniversary year is lost.
Forthcoming local regulations are expected to be released to clarify several measures including:
- Whether parental leave may be carried over to the next year or paid in lieu of (needs to be determined for most provinces except for Beijing and Shanghai)
- Whether parental leave entitlements apply only to married couples
- Exact calculation of an employee’s salary during parental leave
- Eligibility criteria of the new carer’s leave
Employers will need to budget for the increase of their labor costs as well as amend their internal employee handbooks and leave policies accordingly. In doing so, employers will need to consider whether to harmonize benefits across multiple locations or simply follow the local regulations when implementing these family leave benefits across their employee populations