China’s Two Children Policy: What China Employers Should Know

China’s Law on Population and Family Planning (《中华人民共和国人口与计划生育法》) was recently amended to replace China’s “one-child policy” with a two children one. The Chinese government is now officially encouraging Chinese families to have two children. To fully understand the impact this new policy will have on employers in China requires we look beyond the national legislation by analyzing local revisions.

Guangdong appears to be the first province in China to have come up with its own amended population and family planning regulations. Guangdong’s amended regulations delete special employment leave for late marriages and shorten regular marriage leave to three days. Guangdong has also amended maternity leave to 128 days (30 days longer than the basic maternity leave required under the Special Rules on the Labor Protection of Female Employees) and revoked the additional 35 days maternity leave granted to female employees with only one child. This is actually down from the maximum of 148 days of leave time previously available (98 days basic maternity leave plus 35 days for only having one child and 15 days for late marriage). Special leave for a spouse whose wife gives birth is now 15 days, a five day increase.

Beijing is in the process of amending its regulations and it is currently seeking comments to its proposed draft population and family planning regulations. The Amendments on which it is seeking comment provide for 128 days maternity leave, regardless of whether the employee is giving birth to her first or her second child. They also would delete special leave for late marriage and late childbirth but create a new 15 days leave for a spouse whose wife gives birth. It also will delete the special requirements on bearing two children, including the requirement that the children must be four years apart or the woman must be 28 or over. This means couples in Beijing will likely soon be able to choose when to give birth to their second child, rather than having to wait four years or so. Also in the “era” of the two-children policy, there will be no rewards for couples that voluntarily have only one child.

Shanghai announced that for couples who registered their marriage license after January 1, 2016, there will be no extended special leave for late marriage, and what remains is the legally mandated marriage leave of three days. Couples who registered before January 1, 2016 and who have not taken their leave for late marriage are entitled to take an additional seven days off. For female employees who give birth after January 1, 2016, there will be no special leave for late childbirth. Shanghai is currently working on amending its regulations and so I expect more clarification on its new childbirth leave regulations shortly.

As a China employer, it is now going to be incumbent upon you to get up to date with China’s new family and marital leave laws, particularly those local laws that apply to your China business. To the extent that new rules have not yet been published in your location, we suggest you monitor what is being proposed as that is likely what will be coming next.

As always, we will write more as new information becomes available.