Add a bookmark to get started

10 January 20228 minute read

Multiple Provinces and Cities in China Implement New Changes to Parental Leave

Following introduction of the three-child policy on 31 May 2021 and release of the amended national family planning regulations in August, more than 20 provinces and cities in China amended local family planning rules. These rules extended maternity leave and paternity leave and introduced a new type of leave, namely the childcare leave. Such measures are aimed at boosting childbirth rate in order to cope with decline of childbirth and ageing population concerns in China. The form below summarises some changes implemented in several provinces and cities:

Area Maternity and childbirth leave Paternity leave Childcare leave
Beijing 98+60 days, which can be further extended for 1-3 months subjecting to the employer’s approval 15 days (plus any childbirth leave that the husband instead of the wife uses) 5 days per year for each parent until the child reaches the age of 3
Shanghai 98+60 days 10 days 5 days per year for each parent until the child reaches the age of 3
Guangdong 98+80 days 15 days 10 days per year for each parent until the child reaches the age of 3
Zhejiang 98+60 days (for the first child) / 98+90 days (for the second and third child) 15 days 10 days per year for each parent until the child reaches the age of 3
Jiangsu 98+ (no less than) 30 days  15 days To be determined
Tianjin 98+60 days 15 days 10 days per year for each parent until the child reaches the age of 3
Sichuan 98+60 days 20 days 10 days per year for each parent until the child reaches the age of 3

Parental leave entitlement varies among different provinces and cities. Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Sichuan and Zhejiang further published detailed guidelines on implementation of the changes, which increased the intricacy. For example, Beijing allows female employees who were on maternity leave at the time the amendments to local family planning rules were released to enjoy the extended childbirth leave, while Shanghai grants extended childbirth leave to female employees who gave birth to babies on or after 31 May 2021 in response to the three-child policy.

On the new childcare leave, the implementation rules differ even more. Beijing and Shanghai make it clear that annual childcare leave is not calculated in calendar years, but is dependent on the birthdate of the child, while Sichuan requires the childcare leave to be calculated in calendar years. Beijing and Shanghai stipulate that childcare leave should be added up for couples having more than 1 child, while Zhejiang allows the couples to take a fixed number days childcare leave regardless of the number of children they have.

Nevertheless, there are still a number of issues that are yet to be clarified by local government. For instance, Beijing states that the total amount of childcare leaves a couple can take each year is no more than 10 working days without mentioning how employers can figure out the allocation of childcare leaves between the husband and wife. Though the renumeration during childbirth and childcare leave should not be reduced, it remains unclear whether the employer has obligation to pay performance wages, bonus or commission which are calculated on the basis of the employee’s performance. The rules are silent as to whether unused childcare leave may be carried over to the next year or encashed, and whether foreign nationals working in China are entitled to childbirth and childcare leave.

The reaction to the extended leave is mixed, with some concern that it may increase gender discrimination from employers in job market. It remains to be seen whether the government will release further guidance to address gender discrimination on this issue.

From the employer’s perspective, in light of the legal development, employers are suggested to take the following actions to be in compliance with the new requirements and strengthen employee management in daily operation:

  1. Update corresponding internal policy on parental leave, formulate detailed rules on employees’ taking parental leave to regulate the issues that are not addressed in regulations at the provincial / municipal level.
  2. Establish a file of employee’s personal information to verify and track the parental leave taken. The employer will undoubtedly have the need to collect and process personal information of the employee and his/her family members, therefore should ensure the compliance with requirements of personal information processing set forth by the Personal Information Protection Law.
  3. Keep an eye on the legal development in this regard, especially for companies having subsidiaries/offices in more than one location in China and employers having employees based in places outside of the company’s registered place, the company should pay attention to the difference of the requirements among different locations and adopt the correct rules.