Shanghai Extends Maternity Leave And Grants Childcare Leave
On November 25, 2021, the 37th meeting of the Standing Committee of the 15th Shanghai’s Municipal People’s Congress passed the Decision on Amending the Regulations of Shanghai Municipality on Population and Family Planning (‘the Regulation’), effective immediately.
What Are The Changes?
Extended Maternity Leave
The Regulation has extended Shanghai’s local extra maternity leave from 30 to 60 days. By law, female employees in China are entitled to 98 days of basic maternity leave as well as extra days granted by local regions. This means female employees in Shanghai will be able to enjoy a total of 158 days of maternity leave.
The extended maternity leave applies to female employees who have given birth on and after May 31, 2021. Between May 31 and November 25, 2021, even if the female employee already enjoyed 30 days’ maternity leave and maternity insurance, she is still entitled to another 30 days of maternity leave and maternity insurance.
Newly Added Childcare Leave
In addition, the Regulation grants paid childcare leave to parents for the first time. Couples who give birth in accordance with laws and regulations are each entitled to five days’ childcare leave per year until their child reaches the age of three.
According to the Shanghai Municipal Government’s official WeChat post, childcare leave will be calculated on the basis of the number of children born. Childcare leave can be taken in over multiple consecutive days or on separate days, but in principle, it should be used during the current year.
The leave will be calculated based on the children’s actual age. Employees who have children under the age of three on November 25, 2021 can be eligible for childcare leave. For example, if the child’s actual age is over one year and under two years by November 25, 2021, both parents can enjoy five days of childcare leave for the following two years, that is, in 2021 and 2022, respectively.
Other Supportive Policies
The municipal government also said that it will “adopt a comprehensive range of fiscal, educational, housing, employment, and insurance supporting measures to reduce families’ burden on childbirth, child-rearing, and education.”
The regulation has clarified the requirements for governments at all levels and employers to build facilities for mothers and infants and activity places for infants and toddlers, as well as responsibilities of relevant government departments and medical and health institutions to offer guidance, support, and assistance to couples on infant care.
Enterprises in Shanghai may be encouraged to take measures allowing flexible working hours and vacations to support parents who need to take care of infants and toddlers.
The government also encourages private sector capital to invest in nurseries, as parents complain about the insufficient supply of childcare institutions.
China’s Efforts To Boost Childbirth
To address the growing demographic imbalance and boost childbirth, China has adopted a three-child policy and released a series of supporting measures.
On May 31, 2021, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Politburo adopted the Decision on Optimizing Birth Policy to Promote Long-Term Balanced Development of the Population, allowing couples in China to have up to three children.
Shanghai implemented the three-child policy immediately from May 31, 2021. Married couples in Shanghai are permitted to have up to three children. For people who remarry, children born before their subsequent marriage are not counted.
Soon after, on June 26, the CCP Central Committee and the State Council released supporting measures proposing to optimize the country’s maternity leave and maternity insurance systems and pilot childcare leave schemes. The measures also propose to allow nursing expenses for children below the age of three to be deductible from their parents’ taxable income when paying individual income tax.
On August 20, the state’s top legislature eventually amended the Population and Family Planning Law and legalized the three-child policy.
Other cities are expected to follow Shanghai’s example and make their own supportive policies to boost childbirth.
Generally, expatriates are not subject to the local population and family planning regulations. Accordingly, foreign employees may not be able to enjoy the extended local extra maternity leave and childcare leave,. However, it is possible their companies have their own parental and childcare policies, and they are advised to check with their HR for confirmation.