Employee Leave Entitlements in China: Supply Chain HR

When managing employees in China, each day counts, especially their days off.

Leave entitlements in China include all the leave types you would expect, including annual leave, sick leave, maternity leave, and public holidays. However, as is the case with much of HR management in China, there is no one-size-fits-all policy for the entire country.

Leave entitlements in China can vary significantly across provinces and cities. For instance, some regions offer up to 180 days of maternity leave, while others only mandate 120 days. Understanding these nuances is crucial for ensuring compliance and maintaining a happy workforce. If you need assistance in navigating local regulations, we’re here to help!

This guide will outline the national-level requirements and mark specific local differences.

Public Holidays

Employees in China are entitled to 11 days of paid public holidays each year, the dates of which vary annually according to the lunar calendar. The State Council announces these dates each December.

The general structure includes:

  • Chinese New Year: Typically, between late January and mid-February.
  • Ching Ming Festival: Usually between April 4 and 7.
  • Dragon Boat Festival: Often in May or June.
  • Mid-Autumn Festival: Between mid-September and mid-October.
  • National Day of China: Oct. 1.

Companies typically must pay employees overtime if they work on public holidays. The general rule is that they should be paid triple their normal hourly rate for each hour worked.

If you want to employ your team members under a more flexible arrangement that excludes public holidays, you will need a special type of contract and may also have to obtain permission from the authorities, depending on your location. This is particularly relevant if you hire QC inspectors – who might regularly need to work at the weekends.

‘Compensation Days’

Compensation days or “Make-up days” are a notable aspect of public holidays in China, where weekends are transformed into working days to compensate for weekdays taken off during a public holiday.

For example, if a public holiday falls on a Thursday, the subsequent Friday may also be declared a holiday, creating a four-day break. To compensate, a nearby Saturday or Sunday will become a working day. This arrangement can sometimes result in a seven-day working week.

While private companies may forego this practice, the reality is that most Chinese companies observe makeup days as regular workdays, leading to very few companies choosing to opt-out.

Annual Leave

In China, an employee’s entitlement to annual leave is determined by their total work experience, which includes both current and past employment.

This means that:

  • If an employee joins your company with no previous work experience, they are not entitled to any statutory annual leave.
  • However, if they have already completed at least one year of service with another employer, they become eligible for annual leave with your company. In this case, you must grant them five days of leave.

The statutory annual leave entitlements are structured as follows:

Work PeriodAmount of Leave
Less than a yearNo Annual Leave
1-10 Years5 Days
10-20 Years10 Days
More than 20 Years15 Days
Annual leave entitlements in China.

Unused annual leave must be carried over to the following year. Additionally, if an employee leaves the company, they must be financially compensated for any unused annual leave.

Sick Leave

In China, employers typically have the discretion to determine the number of paid sick days they offer to employees. However, there are specific regulations that come into play during a recuperation period for non-occupational illnesses or injuries:

  • Recuperation Period: During this time, employees who are recovering from non-work-related illnesses or injuries are protected from being terminated.
  • Salary Proportion: They must receive a certain percentage of their salary, as mandated by local regulations. This percentage varies based on regional laws.
  • Duration: The length of the recuperation period itself differs from one province to another. Generally, this period can range between three to six months.

Maternity and Paternity Leave

Maternity Leave: Female employees across China are entitled to a standard 98 days of maternity leave. This duration can be extended in certain provinces. For example, in Guangdong, an additional 80 days of leave is provided, bringing the total up to 178 days.

Note: These extra regional days are only applicable to Chinese citizens, not to foreign employees.

Prenatal Leave: From the 12th week of pregnancy, pregnant employees are also eligible for paid leave for prenatal checkups.

Paternity Leave: Paternity leave policies are less uniform across China. For example, new fathers in Shaanxi province get 30 days of paid leave while Beijingers get just five. In most regions, fathers are entitled to 15 days of paternity leave, but this is generally contingent upon the father being married.

Additional Types of Leave

Childcare Leave: In most regions, employees who have children under 3 years old can apply for 10 days of childcare leave.

Parent Care Leave: In specific regions like Guangdong, employees can apply for parent care leave if their parents are residents of the province and are over 60 years old.

Bereavement Leave: Employees are granted 3 days of bereavement leave in the event of the death of an immediate family member.

Marriage Leave: Various regions also mandate leave for newlyweds. However, Guangdong province cancelled this entitlement in 2023.

The China Desk

Chinese leave entitlements vary widely, so it’s important to understand the local rules.

Don’t let managing your China team’s annual leave, sick days, and public holidays turn you into a full-time leave planner. Hand over the calendar to The China Desk. With our expertise, you can leave the worries of compliance and workforce management to us, while your attention stays where it belongs – on your business goals.

Benjamin King

CEO, Kinyu

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Benjamin King

CEO, Kinyu

Need More On-The-Ground Tips & Resources?

Join our monthly digest for an overview of our blogs on Supply Chains, China HR policies, and managing Asia supply chain operations remotely.

By submitting my information, I agree to Kinyu's Privacy Policy.