Last updated on: February 15th, 2023
Labor Law in China is regulated mainly by the People’s Republic of China Labor Law & Labor Contract Law. The Labor law governs the terms and conditions of employment such as working hours, weekly rest and breaks, wages, and other employment conditions. Apart from the labor requirement provided under the People’s Republic of China Labor Law, local cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Tianjin have their own local labor legislations which govern the employer and employee relations in the cities. Other regulations which govern the employment laws in China are the Ordinance on Annual Holiday, Regulation on Paid Annual Leave, Special Rules Concerning the Labor Protection of Female Employees, Regulation on Enterprise Workers Illness or Non-Work Related Injury Medical Period Specified, etc.
Hours & Pay Regulations
Normal Working Hours
Standard working hours include both the daily working hours of employees and the weekly working hours of employees. The state implements a working hour system in which employees work no more than 8 hours a day and an average weekly working time of no more than 44 hours.
Working hours are divided into standard working hours, piece-rate working hours, and other working hours. Standard working hours refer to the time stipulated by national laws and, under normal circumstances, for ordinary employees to engage in work or labor.
For laborers who implement piece-rate work, the employing unit shall reasonably determine their labor quota and piece-rate remuneration standards in accordance with the working hour system of not more than 8 hours a day and an average weekly work of not more than 44 hours. Labor Law Art 36,37 and 41.
Shortened Working Hours – Shortened working hours refer to the working hour system stipulated by law that under special circumstances, the working hours of employees are less than the standard working hours. That is, work less than 8 hours a day. Shortened working days apply to employees engaged in operations such as underground mines, high temperature, toxic and harmful, particularly heavy or excessive tensions, employees engaged in night shift work, and female employees who are breastfeeding.
Comprehensive Working Hour System – The comprehensive calculation of working hours, refers to a working hour system that centrally arranges and comprehensively calculates working hours and rest periods within a certain period of time as a cycle. That is to say, the working hours are comprehensively calculated in cycles of weeks, months, quarters, and years, but the average daily working hours and average weekly working hours should be basically the same as the statutory standard working hours (8 hours per day or 40 hours per week).
For employees who meet one of the following conditions, a comprehensive calculation of working days can be implemented:
- employees in the transportation, railway, post and telecommunications, water transportation, aviation, fishery, and other industries who need to work continuously due to the special nature of their work;
- geological and resources Some employees in industries such as exploration, construction, salt production, sugar production, and tourism are limited by seasons and natural conditions;
- other employees who are suitable for the comprehensive calculation of working hours.
For an enterprise that implements the comprehensive calculation working hour system, the actual working time of a specific day (or week) may exceed 8 hours (or 40 hours) within the comprehensive calculation cycle. However, the total actual working hours in the comprehensive calculation period (on average) shall not exceed the total statutory standard working hours, and the excess part shall be regarded as extended working hours, and wages and remuneration shall be paid in accordance with the overtime remuneration. If the limit is exceeded, then overtime compensation must be paid and work performed on a statutory holiday still requires the employee to be compensated with no less than 300% of the normal rate.
Irregular working hours– refers to a working hour system without fixed working hours. Applicable to employees whose job nature and scope of responsibilities are not limited by fixed working hours. For example, the senior management personnel, field personnel, and salespersons in the enterprise are on duty, staff engaged in transportation, and other employees who are suitable for the irregular working system due to product characteristics, special needs of the work, or the scope of responsibilities. For employees who implement the irregular working system, the enterprise shall reasonably determine the assessment standards of the employee according to the standard working hour system, so as to arrange for the employee to have a rest period.
Flexible Working Hours System
The flexible work hour system accommodates employees whose working hours are impractical to measure. Employees on such a work hour system will generally be paid as salaried employees. No overtime cost is associated with the flexible work hour system. Employers are required to observe appropriate work and rest schedules, though it is ultimately up to the employer’s discretion. Such roles include senior management, salespeople; and employees in the transport, warehousing, and railway sectors. Regulations of the State Council on the Hours of Work of Employees, 1995, art. 3-5.
The standard 8-hour workday generally cannot be extended more than 1 hour per day, although up to a 3-hour extension is permitted under special circumstances. Employees shall be entitled to overtime pay for work performed beyond 44 hours per week.
For production and operation needs, the employer may extend the working hours after consultation with the trade union and the laborers, generally not exceeding 1 hour per day; if the working hours need to be extended for special reasons, the conditions for ensuring the health of the laborers shall be met. The extended working hours shall not exceed 3 hours per day, but not more than 36 hours per month.
Pay – An employee who works in excess of 8 hours in a day or 44 hours per week shall be entitled to a premium at the rate of not less than 150 percent on the regular rate of pay. Labor Law, 1995, art. 44.
No special requirements concerning meal and rest breaks exist, refer to any applicable company regulations which may exist.
Work On Rest Days
The employer shall guarantee its employees at least 1 day off in a week.
Pay – Employee who is required to perform work on a weekly rest day shall be entitled to a premium at the rate of 200 percent of the regular rate of pay if the employer cannot provide for compensatory time off. Labor Law, Art 38 and 44
Employees are entitled to 11 national holidays, the dates of some of which vary year to year depending on the lunar calendar:
- Dec 30 – Jan. 1: New Year’s Day;
- Spring Festival: 7 days in total, usually between late January and mid-February;
- Tomb Sweeping Day: 3 days in total, usually between April 4th – 7th;
- May 1: International Labor Day;
- Dragon Boat Festival: 3 days in total; Friday to Sunday, usually in May or June;
- Mid-Autumn Festival: 3 days in total; Friday to Sunday, usually between mid-September and mid-October; and
- National Day: 7 days in total; Tuesday to Monday (early October).
The adjusted holiday arrangement permits switching non-working days with working days to grant longer consecutive periods of days off for the employees.
Every year, the government also provides additional public holidays to make long holiday weeks, known as “Golden Weeks,” for the Spring Festival and the National Day holidays.
Pay – Employees who are required to work on a holiday are entitled to a premium at the rate of 300 percent on the regular rate of pay. Regulations on Annual Holidays; Labor Law, 1995, art. 44.
Employees are required to have worked continuously for 1 year in order to be entitled to paid annual leave. Employees are entitled to annual vacation as per the following criteria:
- With less than one year of work tenure – No leaves;
- With 1-10 years of work tenure – 5 days of leave;
- With 10-20 years of work tenure – 10 days of leave; and
- With over 20 years of work tenure – 15 days of leave.
If the employer does not allow the employee to take the annual leave (by the end of the current calendar year or anytime in the subsequent calendar year), and if the employee agrees to accept compensation in lieu of such accrued but untaken leave, the employer will be obliged to pay the employee 300 percent of the normal daily salary. Employees may not take paid annual leave under the following circumstances:
- The employee is entitled to winter/summer holidays and the length of these holidays exceeds the amount of annual leave that the employee may have;
- The employee has taken paid personal leave for more than 20 days in that year;
- The employee has worked with their employer for more than 1 year but less than 10 years and has taken sick leave for more than 2 months in that year; and
- The employee has worked with their employer for more than 20 years and has taken sick leave for more than 4 months in that year.
Annual leave can be arranged to be taken together within a year or may be taken in parts. Unused annual leave may be carried over to the following year. Regulations on Paid Annual Leave for Employees, 2007, arts. 3, 5.
China does not have a statutory minimum wage for the entire nation. The minimum wage differs as per the local conditions of each province in China.
The above information on minimum wages might not be up to date & subject to change. Kindly access this link for the current rates.
Female employees are entitled to a minimum of 98 days paid maternity leave including 15 days prior to childbirth (discretion of the employee). Leave may be extended by 15 days under special circumstances such as dystocia. If the employee gives birth to more than one child at a time, an additional 15-day maternity leave shall be given for each additional infant.
15 days of maternity leave is offered in cases of abortion after a pregnancy shorter than four months, and no less than 6 weeks (42 days) of maternity leave in cases of miscarriage/abortion after a pregnancy longer than four months.
Maternity leave entitlements vary according to provincial regulations, i.e. each locality has a separate regulation that has implemented additional duration of the leave. For example, the Fujian regulation provides for maternity leave ranging from 158 days to 180 days.
Pregnant female employees shall be entitled to take paid time off during working hours in order to get prenatal examinations.
Pay – The maternity allowance for female employees during maternity leave, for those who have participated in maternity insurance, shall be paid from the maternity insurance fund according to the average monthly salary of the employees in the previous year. Paid by the employer.
A female employee is also given at least one hour daily during work hours for breastfeeding during the first-year post birth of the child. For female employees who have multiple births, 1 additional hour of breastfeeding time per day shall be added for each additional infant. Special Rules Concerning the Labor Protection of Female Employees, 2012, art. 7-9.
Paternity leave entitlements vary according to provincial regulations, i.e. each locality has a separate regulation that has implemented an additional duration of paternity leave. For example, in Shanghai, a male employee is entitled to 10 days of paternity leave in the case of late childbirth, and in Shenzhen and Beijing, a male employee is entitled to 15 days of paternity leave if their wife is 23 or older.
Sick leave entitlements vary according to provincial and municipal regulations.
An employee suffering from illness or non-work-related injuries is entitled to a sick-leave period ranging from 3 to 24 months, depending on the number of years the employee has worked for an employer and his/her total years of work experience. Generally, an employee is compensated during their sick-leave period at 60 to 100 percent of the regular wage, depending on the employee’s seniority.
Sick-leave entitlement does not have to be taken in a single installment. Enterprise Workers Illness or Non-Work Related Injury Medical Period Specified, 1994, art. 3.
Childcare leave refers to a period of paid or unpaid leave granted to employees for the care and/or support of their children under a certain age.
Childcare leave entitlements vary according to provincial regulations, i.e. each locality has a separate regulation that provides childcare leave to parents. Multiple regions have implemented the childcare leave act, including Xianing City in Hubei Province, Dalian City in Liaoning Province, and the provinces of Guangdong, Fujian, and Ningxia. Both parents who lawfully have a child are entitled to a certain amount of childcare leave per year until their child reaches a certain age. Furthermore, 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 couples to take a fixed number of days of childcare leave regardless of the number of children they have.
More than 26 provinces have implemented additional duration of childcare leave. Beijing and Shanghai both stipulate that each parent can enjoy 5 days’ childcare leave each year until their child reaches 3 years. Beijing further stated that the total amount of childcare leaves both parents can take each year is no more than 10 working days. Some provinces offer longer childcare leave. Fujian, Guangxi, Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang, Liaoning, Hebei, Jiangxi, Jiangsu, Sichuan, Guizhou, Zhejiang, Tianjin, Ningxia, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Hainan, and Guangdong provide 10 days of childcare leave each year for couples with children under the age of three. Shanxi, Qinghai, and Gansu provinces give 15 days of childcare leave each year to couples with children under the age of 3. In Anhui and Chongqing, the maximum age limit of children for childcare leave is 6. According to Anhui’s population and family planning regulation, each parent is given 10 days of childcare leave each year until their child is 6 years old. In Yunnan, either parent who has children under the age of 3 years old shall be granted 10 days’ childcare leave each year. For those who have more than two children under the age of 3 years old, an additional 5 days of childcare leave will be added to either parent each year.
It is a paid leave entitlement granted to any employee who: 1) Is working in government organizations or state-owned enterprises; 2) Has worked for more than 1 year for that employer; 3) Does not live with his or her spouse or parents, and 4) Cannot visit his or her spouse or parents on a rest day.
If the employee is to visit his or her spouse, such employee is entitled to 30 days of spouse visitation leave once a year. State Council, Regs. on Treatment for Employees Who Visit Their Relatives, eff. Mar. 14, 1981.
When an employee’s parent, spouse, or child dies, such employee is entitled to between one and three days of paid bereavement leave.
A number of cities in China are starting to introduce new leave entitlements enabling employees, who are the only children in their families, to take fully paid leave to care for elderly parents. Fujian, Guangxi, Hainan, Henan, Hubei, and Heilongjiang provinces have all issued similar paid leave regulations enabling employees to take off between 10 and 20 days per year to care for sick parents.
Employees in Chongqing are entitled to up to 10 days of paid leave per year to take care of their hospitalized parents.
Employees in Guangzhou are entitled to paid leave of up to 15 days per year to take care of parents older than 60 years old who are receiving treatment in a hospital.