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The Intricacies of Maternity Leave across China: Regional Differences

Published: 10 Jun 2015 19:41:23 PST

Giving birth in ChinaBy Steven Elsinga and Rainy Yao

While the key points of China’s ?maternity leave?are legislated at the national level, a significant part of the system is?regulated at the local level, as is common with many matters concerning human resources and social security. All across China, the base length of maternity leave is 98 days. If a woman gives birth to more than one child at the same time, she gets an additional 15 days off per child.

The main regional differences concern maternity leave for difficult childbirth, miscarriage, and what the Chinese government has termed ‘late childbirth’.

As one of the ways to stem population growth, the Chinese government encourages citizens to delay childbirth and have only one child. Couples that do can apply for a Family Planning Certificate, which entitles them to a number of benefits, including additional maternity leave. In many cities, when a couple has?only one child, the father is entitled to a?few days off as well. The details are regulated at the local level, including what age is considered ‘late childbirth’ and the length of additional leave. Depending on the length of added leave, this sometimes leads to the curious situation where an employee that gives birth to twins gets less maternity leave than a woman who gives birth to one child.

By default, a woman can get 15 extra days leave for difficult childbirth, and a (shortened) maternity leave in case of a miscarriage. This is 15-30 days if the miscarriage occurred within the first?four months of pregnancy, and 42 days if after. However, many local regulations on this topic are more detailed, as described below.?

North China

Beijing

Difficult childbirth: includes caesarean section, 15 days.
Miscarriage: if a female employee has a miscarriage within 16 weeks, she may take 15 days off. If the miscarriage occurred after 16 weeks, she is entitled to 42 days off.
Late childbirth – one child: Either the mother or the father can take an?additional 30 days leave. The mother may choose to not take additional leave, and instead receive an extra month’s maternity allowance.

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Tianjin

Miscarriage: for a miscarriage during the first three months, the woman?gets 15 days’ worth of maternity allowance. She gets 30?days off for a miscarriage that occurred between two and three months. Between 3-7 months of pregnancy, it is the 42 days prescribed nationally. A miscarriage after seven months is treated as a regular birth for maternity leave purposes, so she gets to take 98 days off.
Late childbirth – one child: If the woman gives birth to her child after the age of 24, she may take additional 30 days leave, upon showing her Family Planning Certificate. The father gets seven days leave. She may also choose not to take the leave and instead receive an additional 30 days’ maternity allowance.

Dalian, Liaoning province

Difficult childbirth: 15 days.
Miscarriage: if a female employee has a miscarriage within 4 months, she may take between 15 and 30 days’ leave, depending on the doctor’s advice. If the miscarriage occurred after 4 months, she is entitled to 42 days off.
Late childbirth: Married women who get pregnant after age 23 (and their husbands are at least 25) may take an additional 60 days off (44 for Liaoning province); their husbands may take 15 days leave. The leave however includes weekends and public holidays. Curiously, the couple also gets leave for a second child, under certain circumstances (e.g. both parents are an only child).

Qingdao, Shandong province

Miscarriage: 15 days for miscarriage during 1-4 months pregnancy and 42 days for miscarriage occurred after 4 months.
Late childbirth – one child: Married women who give birth to their child after the age of 23 get an additional 60 days leave; their husbands get 7 days.

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East China

Shanghai

Difficult childbirth: 15 days.
Miscarriage: if the miscarriage occurs before 4 months, the woman gets 15 days off. After four months, it is 42 days.
Late childbirth – one child: 30 days for the mother; 3 days for the father. Leave is only given if the parents are married, and the mother is the father’s first wife, or he has remarried and this is his first child. The salary to be paid during additional leave taken for late childbirth is covered by the employer, not the bureau of Human Resources and Social Security.

Hangzhou, Zhejiang province

Difficult childbirth: includes birth by caesarean section. Unique to Zhejiang, in case of childbirth with the intervention of a midwife, 7 extra days are added.
Miscarriage: Hangzhou city rules count maternity leave by months instead of days. For a miscarriage that occurred during the first three months, the employee gets one month off. Between 3-7 months of pregnancy, it is 1.7 months, i.e. 50 days. A miscarriage that has occurred after 7 months is considered a regular birth for maternity leave purposes.
Late childbirth – one child: if a married gets her child after age 24, the father gets 7 days leave.
Note: in Zhejiang province, no additional leave is given when an employee gives birth to more than one child at a time.

Suzhou, Jiangsu province

Difficult childbirth: includes caesarean section, 15 days.
Miscarriage: For a miscarriage occurred during the first two months, the employee may take 20 days off; it is 30 days during the third month. Between 3-7 months of pregnancy, it is the 42 days prescribed nationally. A miscarriage after seven months is treated as a regular birth for maternity leave purposes.
Late childbirth – one child: additional 30 days if the woman gave birth after age 24, or if the child was conceived while she was 23. The father is granted 10 days paternity leave.?

South China

Guangzhou, Guangdong province

Difficult childbirth: following Guangzhou city rules, 15 or 30 days additional leave, depending on the complication. Guangdong province rules stipulate 30 days.
Miscarriage: For a miscarriage occurred before four months, the employee may take 15 to 30 days off, depending on the health department’s advice. Between 4-7 months of pregnancy, it is the 42 days prescribed nationally. After the seventh months, she may take 75 days off.
Late childbirth – one child: a married woman who gives birth to one child after age 23 may take an extra 15 days off. If a woman with?a Guangdong hukou gets one child, she may take an extra 35 days off, upon showing her Family Planning Certificate. Her husband gets 10 days, again upon showing the Family Planning Certificate.?

Shenzhen, Guangdong province

Difficult childbirth: Shenzhen includes caesarean section, not all Guangdong cities do this. 15 days, provided the woman shows a certificate from the doctor.
Miscarriage: for the first four months, the leave is between 15 and 30 days, depending on the doctor’s advice.
Late childbirth – one child: a married woman who gives birth to one child after age 23 may take an extra 15 days off.

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Dongguan, Guangdong province

Difficult childbirth: 30 days (Guangdong provincial rules).
Miscarriage: for the first four months, the leave is between 15 and 30 days. After four months it is 42 days.
Late childbirth – one child: a married woman who gives birth to one child after age 23 may take an extra 15 days off. If a woman with?a Guangdong hukou gets one child, she may take an extra 35 days off, upon showing her Family Planning Certificate. Her husband gets 10 days, again upon showing the Family Planning Certificate.?

Conclusion

Rules and regulations concerning employee rights and social welfare vary vastly across China. The differences in the length of maternity leave are just one example of this. While outside the scope of this article, foreign investors should take note that maternity leave stipulations are different for abortions. To promote family planning and birth control, both male and female employees may also take paid leave for contraceptive medical procedures. The cost of the procedure is covered by local social insurance, and the length of leave differs regionally as well.

For a company with a ?smaller presence in China, maternity leave may not pose much of an issue. Once a company expands, however, it may turn into an intricate HR issue, especially when that company becomes active across different?provinces. At this stage, it may be advisable to increase the sophistication of one’s HR support.

This article was first published on China Briefing.
Since its establishment in 1992, Dezan Shira&Associates has been guiding foreign clients through Asia’s complex regulatory environment and assisting them with all aspects of legal, accounting, tax, internal control, HR, payroll and audit matters. As a full-service consultancy with operational offices across China, Hong Kong, India and emerging ASEAN, we are your reliable partner for business expansion in this region and beyond.
For inquiries, please email us at info@dezshira.com. Further information about our firm can be found at: www.dezshira.com.

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