On April 28 2012 the State Council issued the amended Regulations on the Protection of Female Employees, which supersede the previous 1988 regulations on female employee protection. In addition to the extension of the maternity leave period from 90 to 98 days (for further details please see "Increasing protection for female employees"), the new regulations strengthen the benefits and protections for female employees in the following ways:

  • Leave entitlement for miscarriage – female employees are entitled to 15 days' leave for miscarriage during the first four months of pregnancy and 42 days' leave for miscarriage after the fourth month of pregnancy.
  • Maternity stipend and medical cost for childbirth – if the company fails to make maternity social insurance contributions for an employee, it will be liable for payment of the maternity leave subsidy and related medical costs.
  • Prohibited work scope – a more comprehensive and detailed list of prohibited work activities for female employees than existed under the previous regulations has been provided.
  • Administrative penalties – companies that violate the new regulations may face several penalties. Specifically, companies will be fined up to Rmb5,000 for each affected female employee if they fail to provide maternity leave entitlement, nursing time off and other allowances. If companies engage female employees in work that is prohibited by law, local authorities may order rectification or company closure in serious cases, in addition to a fine of up to Rmb300,000. In contrast, the old regulations did not specify any administrative fines.

For further information on this topic please contact Andreas Lauffs or Jonathan Isaacs at Baker & McKenzie's Hong Kong office by telephone (+852 2846 1888), fax (+852 2845 0476) or email (andreas.lauffs@bakermckenzie.com or jonathan.isaacs@bakermckenzie.com).

This article was first published by the International Law Office, a premium online legal update service for major companies and law firms worldwide. Register for a free subscription.