As an expat working in China, you may be the victim of seemingly 'unfair' rules due to Chinese labor law. Your rights will be different compared to those of the locals - let's see what they are, and how you can protect your rights:


1. Work permits 

According to the provisions of the "Exit and Entry Administration Law" implemented foreigners working in China should obtain work permits and work class residence certificates to work legally. Otherwise, it's deemed as "illegal employment". 


Compared with Chinese employees, they just begin working and they do not need to process such documents. This rule was made to ensure employers who refuse to sign the labor contract with their employees cannot manipulate the law.


Advice: Before signing a contract, you should discuss it with your employer, who should apply for a work visa for you. If they don't offer a work visa, then you can choose to apply by yourself or reject the work in this company.


2. Internships are restricted

Internships for foreigners are theoretically restricted. The main issue regarding internships is that the status, “intern” does not officially exist in the Chinese governmental system. Therefore, if a company is willing to employ foreign interns, the candidates must already be studying at a Chinese university under an X-1 Long-Term Student Visa. The student must receive permission from his or her university and then apply to the Public Security Bureau Entry-Exit Administration for a notation on their residence certificate.




Meanwhile, there are no restrictions on recruiting Chinese interns; it only needs the agreement of the intern.


3. Tax Rules only for foreigner

In China, Tax rules for foreigners are different, mainly being based on your duration in China:


Tax for Chinese citizens is based on monthly income.


4. Tier Classification System

 Under this policy, foreign applicants will be divided into three categories based on a scoring system. Credits will be assigned to applicants for Work Permits based on their education, background, salary level, age, time spent working in China, and Chinese language fluency. Many cities now operating under this policy have issued local standards for the scoring system.

Category A applies to foreign high-end talent.

Category B applies to foreign professionals.

Category C applies to the remaining types of foreign workers.


There are no categories of this type for Chinese workers.


5. Retirement age

Older expats are not like their Chinese counterparts, who are retired completely by the age of 55 or 60, but instead are still active in their jobs, or even acting as middle-level and high-level managers or technicians in many companies. Although the employment certificate is usually restricted by age, the law of China does not prohibit foreigners who exceed the legal retirement age from working in China. As long as the employment certificate is valid, it is legally risky for the employer to terminate the labor contract.

However, when Chinese employees reach the retirement age, the employer may terminate the contract.


Advice: When you reach the China retirement age, you have two choices: one is to apply for retirement based on Chinese rules, another is, if you still want to work for a few more years, then keep just working as you are!


6. Maternity insurance

As far as specific benefits provided by Maternity Insurance go, after conception you’ll get benefits for natal care, which can include medical consultations, regular checkups, ultrasounds, blood and urine tests, birth defect screenings and more. Expats can have children in or outside the country. Female employees may enjoy maternity leave and are not subject to the limit of the number of childbearing. In Beijing and Guangzhou, expats are allowed to receive these benefits for two pregnancies..


According to the Provisions on Female Labor Protection under Special Circumstances (State Council Decree No. 619):


- 98 days paid maternity leave beginning 15 days prior to childbirth, with extensions of 15 days given under special circumstances (e.g. dystocia).


-15 days extra leave for multiple births, granted per extra child.


- Approximately 30 days extra leave for women over 24, considered “late maternity leave” or “maternity rewards leave” (days can vary by location, and foreigners are not eligible for this leave).


- 15 days maternity leave in cases of abortion of pregnancy of four months or less, and six weeks granted in cases of miscarriage/abortion after four months.


- Mothers granted one hour each day to breastfeed during a one year “breastfeeding period”.


- Fathers granted approximately 14 days paternal leave (days vary by location, Shanghai offers 10 days while Shenzhen grants 15).


- Pregnant employees are also protected from termination of employment during pregnancy, maternity leave, and the breastfeeding period. Contracts of employees that are due to expire during these periods must be extended (either by a new contract, or a revised termination date).


Advice: Declare this responsibility with your employer before you signed the contract. See their offer whether fulfill your request. When this problem comes to you, call the Bureau of Labour, they will ask you for your employment contract and maternity proof to solve this problem.


7. Part-time jobs

Many expats have part-time jobs here; as a native English speaker, private tuition is popular in China or with a foreign face some can take part in modeling. But in principle, foreign employees (except foreign experts in certain regions) are not allowed to take up part-time jobs. Foreign employees can only work in the region and enterprise where the employment certificate is issued from. If the employment area is changed, the corresponding formalities should be handled. 


Chinese employees can have cross regional part-time jobs without such restrictions, as long as the relevant parties can reach a consensus.


8. Employment Type

In many universities, foreign teachers simply sign an employment contract. When the contract comes to its expiry date, employers can decide whether to re-employ you or not.


Differing from Chinese public servant teachers, once you’re employed by this institution, they don’t have right to fire you.


9. Gaokao exam for international students

Many top universities, such as Peking and Tsinghua have their own entrance exam for international students. Worse still, some of them change the exams every year and don’t offer any specific information about what they expect.


When it comes to Chinese students, they just need to take gaokao exam to enter top universities.


Beside the above ‘unfair’ rules, are there any other rules you've suffered through in China that made you feel you’re treated unfairly, and sought help? Leave your comment below!

Source: ChinaExpatHealth (Maternity insurance), State Council Decree No.619 (Maternity rules), ins-global consulting

GIC QR.jpg