Happy and satisfied employees make your business thrive and lead to even better profits. However, the specific benefits for employees in China might not all be familiar to you yet. By using our PEO and EOR service we can provide compliant labor contracts for employees in Malta including local benefits. When expanding your company’s presence in a new country, you need to ensure compliance both in your employment contracts and benefit guarantees. These involve social security contributions, sick leave, health insurance, and unemployment, to name a few. In China, benefits are guaranteed by national legislation as well as collective agreements with trade unions or workers’ councils. Our guide will explain what benefits and employee compensation are guaranteed, and what can be modified, for any employer who wishes to expand their business into China.
What are the Employee Benefits in China?
Foreign companies’ responsibilities when hiring in China stretch beyond complying with contract laws. Workers’ benefits are also strictly applied in China. For example, social insurance alone comprises legally required benefits covering retirement pensions, medical care, unemployment insurance and disability insurance plus maternity entitlements.
Guaranteed benefits in other categories under China’s Labor Law include:
- Minimum wages (set at provincial level)
- Holiday entitlement
- Working hours
- Termination, dismissals, severance, and compensation
- China’s Labor Law and Labor Contract Law stipulate that all full-time employees must have written confirmation of all entitlements in their contract.
This illustrates that the responsibilities of foreign companies reach further than simply complying with tax, social security, and payroll regulations. Failure to comply with specific regulations applying to benefits and entitlements runs the risk of fines and sanctions. It is vital that employers have a firm grasp of what is guaranteed for their employees, as this will affect the employer-employee relationship. This is where Bradford Jacobs steps in to point you in the right direction, drawing on over 20 years’ experience as a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) and Employer of Record (EOR).
What Compensation Laws exist in China?
China’s far-reaching labor laws cover all businesses and economic entities and their employees. Employment legislation is mainly based on the following laws, codes, and statutes:
- The Labor Law is formulated in line with the Chinese Constitution to protect the rights of workers and regulate their relationship with employers. The Labor Law creates the framework for employment relationships, although regulations are not codified under a single piece of legislation.
- The Labor Contract Law details responsibilities and obligations of employers and employees, in addition to the terms for implementing and ending employment relationships. It is supplemented by the statute on Implementing Regulations of the Labor Contract Law, which goes into detail on contract requirements
- The Mediation and Arbitration of Disputes Law covers how workers’ rights and compensation are protected by labor tribunals dealing with employment disputes. Under Article 2 it covers disputes over working hours and breaks, vacations, social insurance, other benefits, workplace health and safety and remuneration for workplace illness or injury
- The Minimum Wage Provisions Act establishes the framework for minimum wages, which vary between provinces, territories and administrative cities and authorities. Under the Labor Law, the relevant authorities must record the minimum rates with the State Council. The Act allows for rates being adjusted according to living costs, average wages, and local economic development. Rates are enforced by local labor authorities
Paid Annual Leave Regulations apply rules on statutory paid leave for employees
Other regulations can be imposed by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, other ministries, commissions, and State Councils The requirement for employers to respect employees’ rights stretches further than simply complying with tax and payroll procedures. Regulations apply to such as minimum wages, maternity allowances and benefits, holidays, sick pay, and severance payments. Drawing up contracts is tricky enough, but in China it is vital for employers to be up to speed with responsibilities to their staff over benefits, compensation, and minimum requirements. Do not take the risk of paying penalties for ignoring these responsibilities.
Compensation, entitlements, and benefits
- Minimum Wages: There is no over-riding national minimum, leaving individual provinces, territories, and municipal authorities to set their own rates and record them with the State Council. In August 2021 Beijing, for example, increased the monthly minimum from CNY 2,200 to CNY 2,320 (€313, US$362). Shanghai already had the highest monthly minimum of CNY 2,590 (€350, US$404). Thirteen provinces also increased minimum wages – Heilongjiang, Hubei, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Ningxia, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Tibet, Xinjiang, Zhejiang, Shandong, Jilin, Hainan, with the prospect that more would follow this trend.
- Sickness Benefit: Benefits range from 60% to 100% of salary with paid sickness leave up to 24 months covering illness and non-work-related injuries. For under six months’ sick leave an employee with less than two years’ unbroken service receives 60% of salary, climbing to 100% for employees with more than eight years’ continuous service. For sick leave exceeding six months, employees with less than 12 months’ service receive 40% of their salary, between one and three years 50% and between three and six years 60%. Illness or injury must be certified by a doctor or hospital.
- Working Hours and Breaks: Under the Labor Law and Employee Working Time Regulation the standard working week comprises 40 hours and eight daily, typically from Monday to Friday. Working days are usually between 8am and 6pm with up to two hours for lunch. There are regional variations. There is no statutory legislation covering rest breaks during the working day or minimum free hours between working days although employees are entitled to at least one free day.
- Overtime: Working hours exceeding eight a day are overtime and employees receive 150% of their normal pay. Saturday or Sunday work is paid at twice the normal salary, while work on public holidays earns three times the usual pay. Maximum overtime is three hours per day and 36 a month. The Comprehensive Working Hours System allows employers to contract workers to 10 hours day before overtime begins but requires official approval from employment authorities. The Flexible Working Hours System, with Labor Council approval, precludes high-earning managerial and executive staff from overtime pay.
- Paid Vacations: Paid leave is mandatory, strictly limited to the total number of years employed, not necessarily with the same employer. Holidays must be taken in the current year and unused vacation cannot be carried forward. Holiday benefits begin after employees have worked continuously for 12 months. The entitlement is five days’ paid leave for between one- and 10-years’ total employment: 10 days for between 10 and 20 years and 15 days for over 20 years.
- Maternity Benefit: Funded by the Maternity Insurance Fund and administered by the relevant Social Security Bureau for the province, territory, or municipal authority. Benefit is calculated from the employee’s average monthly salary and those of all employees over the previous year. The higher amount is taken, but usually capped at three times the average salary in that Bureau’s jurisdiction, excluding Beijing or Shanghai where there is no limit. Employers who fail to contribute to the fund must pay the employee themselves.
- Maternity / Paternity and Parental Leave: As there is no mandatory national minimum for maternity leave, the International Labor Organization standard applies of 98 days with 15 days pre-natal and 83 days after the birth. Provinces may allow for more. Guangdong allows an extra 80 days: Henan and Hainan a total of 190 days and Heilongjiang and Gansu 180. Extra allowances can apply in the case of difficult births or miscarriages. Similarly, paternity leave may vary between regions with the mandated national minimum being 14 days paid leave. There is no national policy on childcare / parental leave.
- Termination and Severance: All employees are covered by laws on termination. Employers can summarily dismiss an employee for misconduct as defined by law or may be allowed in some circumstances to terminate with 30 days’ notice or payment in lieu. However, if the employer has not displayed a disciplinary policy, it can be problematic to dismiss for misconduct. Trade unions must be informed of unilateral dismissals. Termination is prohibited or restricted in the case of pregnancy, work-related illness or injury and cumulative sick leave depending on seniority. Employees who have worked for the same employer for more than 15 years and are within five years of statutory retirement age cannot have their employment terminated.
- Notice Periods: Terminating employment is covered by China’s Labor Law and Contract Law and should be written into the employment contract. However. Under certain circumstances, the employer can give 30 days’ written notice (or one month’s salary) prior to termination. Notice is not required in cases of misconduct, but union consultation may be involved.