how to pay mandatory benefits in China

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This comprehensive guide explores the nuances of compliance, payment procedures, and recent regulatory changes in social insurance and housing fund contributions. In this article, we delve into the responsibilities of both employers and employees, introduce the crucial aspects of meeting regulatory requirements to ensure a smooth and lawful process for paying mandatory benefits.

mandatory benefits

Mandatory Employee Benefits in China: China’s 5+1 System

Pension fund

The retirement age in China varies by gender and is typically set at 60 for men and 55 for female white-collar workers. These benefits primarily consist of the basic pension, which is funded through a combination of employer and employee contributions. The amount of the pension is determined by factors such as the individual’s years of service and average wage. To ensure a secure retirement, understanding the intricacies of China’s retirement benefits, contribution rates, and eligibility criteria is essential for both employees and employers, as this plays a pivotal role in long-term financial planning and retirement security.

Medical Insurance in China

China’s healthcare system has undergone significant reforms to provide accessible and affordable medical services to its residents. These benefits encompass basic medical insurance, which covers a range of healthcare services, including hospitalization, outpatient care, and prescription medications. The medical insurance program is funded through contributions from both employers and employees, ensuring access to medical care when needed. Understanding the eligibility criteria, coverage, and contribution rates is crucial for individuals and employers, as it supports overall health and well-being while navigating China’s evolving healthcare landscape.

Unemployment Insurance in China

Unemployment benefits in China serve as a safety net for individuals facing job loss or involuntary unemployment. The country’s social security system offers unemployment insurance, providing financial support during periods of joblessness. Eligibility typically requires a minimum period of prior employment and the payment of insurance contributions. Benefits are calculated based on the individual’s previous earnings and can provide temporary financial relief. This system not only aids individuals in maintaining their livelihood but also contributes to overall economic stability by preventing severe financial crises during periods of job market volatility. Understanding the provisions and requirements of unemployment benefits is crucial for both employees and employers in China.

Work-Injury Insurance in China

Work-related injury insurance is designed to provide support to employees who suffer work-related injuries or disabilities. When an employee is injured on the job or becomes disabled due to occupational factors, they are entitled to compensation, medical treatment, and rehabilitation services. The benefits aim to alleviate financial burdens and assist in rehabilitation, ultimately allowing individuals to reintegrate into the workforce. Employers are responsible for funding these benefits through insurance contributions. Understanding the process, eligibility criteria, and the available support for those affected by work-related injuries or disabilities is crucial for both employees and employers in China.

Maternity Benefits in China

Chinese labor laws offer comprehensive maternity leave, allowing women to take time off work with full pay for a designated period before and after childbirth. The duration of leave varies depending on the specific region, and employers are typically responsible for covering these costs. In addition to paid leave, expectant mothers receive medical care and other maternity-related services, ensuring both the health of the mother and the child. Understanding these benefits is vital for both employees and employers in China, as they contribute to a healthy work-life balance and the well-being of families.

Housing provident fund

This is a sum of money linked to the house, which can be used to borrow money to buy a house, rent a house, renovate, etc., among which the provident fund loan can be said to be the loan with the lowest interest rate you can enjoy. So far, it is mainly concentrated in third- and fourth-tier cities, and there are still some companies that have not paid “five insurances and one housing fund” according to the regulations.

What employee benefits are optional in China?

In China, while mandatory benefits like social insurance and housing fund contributions are legally required, there are various optional employee benefits that employers may choose to provide to attract and retain talent. These voluntary benefits can enhance job satisfaction, boost morale, and improve employee retention. Some common optional benefits in China include:

Supplementary Health Insurance: Employers can offer additional health insurance coverage that goes beyond the basic medical insurance provided under the social security system. This can include coverage for dental care, vision, and other healthcare needs.

Flexible Working Arrangements: Employers can provide flexibility in work hours, remote work options, or compressed workweeks to promote work-life balance.

Meal and Transportation Allowances: Some companies offer meal allowances or subsidies for employees who commute to work, especially in larger cities with high living costs.

Wellness Programs: Employers may introduce wellness programs, fitness memberships, or stress management initiatives to support employees’ physical and mental well-being.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs): EAPs offer counseling and support for employees dealing with personal or work-related issues, enhancing their emotional and mental health.

Education and Training: Providing opportunities for further education, skill development, or language courses can be an attractive benefit.

Childcare Support: Some employers offer assistance with childcare expenses, such as on-site daycare facilities or subsidies.

Retirement Benefits: While retirement benefits are mandatory, some companies offer additional contributions or retirement planning assistance to help employees secure their financial future.

Employee Recognition and Rewards: Recognition programs, bonuses, or incentives for outstanding performance can boost motivation and loyalty among employees.

These optional benefits can vary widely depending on the industry, company size, and location in China. Employers often tailor their benefit packages to meet the specific needs and preferences of their workforce, contributing to a more competitive and attractive work environment.

Who is Responsible for Paying Mandatory Benefits?

The amount of five insurances and one housing fund = the basic payment × the proportion of payment

The contribution base is your average monthly salary in the previous year, and the upper limit cannot exceed 3 times the local average monthly salary of the previous year, and the lower limit cannot be less than 60% of the local average monthly salary of the previous year.

Contribution rates vary from place to place, but are generally as follows:

Employers’ Obligations

Employers in China have several important obligations to fulfill to ensure compliance with labor laws and regulations, as well as to maintain a harmonious work environment. These obligations are aimed at safeguarding the rights and well-being of employees. Some key employer responsibilities include:

Social Insurance and Housing Fund Contributions: Employers must withhold and contribute the required amounts to social insurance programs (e.g., pension, medical, unemployment, work-related injury, maternity) and the housing fund. Accurate and timely payments are crucial to avoid legal penalties.

Work Safety and Health: Employers must provide a safe and healthy working environment, including necessary safety equipment, training, and measures to prevent accidents or occupational illnesses.

Working Hour Regulations: Employers are responsible for adhering to labor laws regarding maximum working hours, rest days, and overtime compensation.

Non-Discrimination and Equal Pay: Employers must ensure fair treatment and equal pay for all employees, irrespective of gender, age, race, or other factors.

Maternity and Parental Leave: Employers are responsible for granting maternity leave and accommodating parental leave for employees who become parents, while providing job security during these periods.

Record-Keeping and Reporting: Employers should maintain accurate records of employee data, payroll, and benefits, and submit required reports to government authorities.

Fulfilling these obligations is crucial to prevent legal consequences and create a positive workplace environment where employees feel their rights and well-being are respected and protected. Employers should stay informed about evolving labor laws to ensure ongoing compliance.

Employees’ Responsibilities

Employees in China also have essential responsibilities that contribute to a productive and cooperative work environment. Firstly, they are obligated to uphold their employment contract and follow workplace rules and regulations. This includes adhering to working hours, completing tasks as assigned, and maintaining a respectful and professional attitude towards colleagues and superiors. Employees are also responsible for safeguarding company resources, including equipment, materials, and confidential information.

Secondly, employees must comply with safety guidelines and report any unsafe conditions or incidents to their employer. This helps maintain a secure and healthy workplace for themselves and their coworkers. Additionally, employees are required to participate in training and skill development programs as mandated by their employer to enhance their job performance and contribute to the overall success of the organization. 

Finally, during times of illness or other unavoidable circumstances, employees are responsible for promptly informing their employer and providing necessary documentation for sick leave or other forms of leave. By fulfilling these responsibilities, employees not only ensure their own professional success but also contribute to a harmonious and efficient work environment in compliance with labor laws and company policies.

Compliance Requirements

Documentation and Reporting

Employers must maintain accurate records of employee information, payroll, and benefits. This documentation includes employment contracts, employee profiles, work hours, salary details, and records of social insurance and housing fund contributions. Accurate and up-to-date records are essential for demonstrating compliance with labor laws and ensuring transparency in the employment relationship. These records also serve as a foundation for resolving disputes or addressing employee grievances.

Effective reporting is equally important. Employers must submit required reports to government authorities, such as social insurance and housing fund contributions, income tax withholdings, and labor contract filings. Timely and accurate reporting is not only a legal obligation but also crucial for avoiding fines and penalties. Additionally, when dealing with workplace incidents, employers should promptly investigate and report any work-related injuries, accidents, or violations of labor regulations. Ensuring thorough documentation and reporting practices helps protect the interests of both employers and employees while upholding the rule of law in the workplace.

Penalties for Non-compliance

Non-compliance can result in financial penalties, legal disputes, and damage to a company’s reputation. Employers failing to fulfill their obligations, such as withholding and contributing to social insurance and the housing fund, may face fines ranging from a percentage of the underpaid amount to several times that amount. Persistent non-compliance can lead to the suspension of business operations or even the revocation of a company’s business license.

Furthermore, violations related to employment contracts, minimum wage requirements, working hours, and workplace safety can also result in penalties and legal disputes. These penalties may include back pay to employees, compensation for wrongful termination, and additional fines. In addition to the financial impact, non-compliance can damage a company’s reputation and hinder its ability to attract and retain top talent. Thus, it is in the best interest of employers in China to prioritize adherence to labor laws, maintain accurate documentation, and stay informed about evolving regulations to avoid the severe penalties associated with non-compliance.

Payment Procedures

Registering for Mandatory Benefits

Employers are responsible for initiating the registration process by enrolling their employees in the appropriate social insurance programs and the housing fund. This involves submitting necessary documents and employee information to local government authorities within prescribed timelines. Failure to register employees for mandatory benefits can result in legal consequences, including fines and penalties.

On the other hand, employees should cooperate with their employers during the registration process by providing accurate and complete personal information required for the social insurance and housing fund contributions. Proper registration ensures that employees can access the benefits they are entitled to, such as healthcare coverage and retirement benefits. Understanding and following the registration procedures is essential to maintain a compliant and lawful employment relationship in China.

Calculating and Making Contributions

Calculating and making contributions to mandatory benefits in China involves a shared responsibility between employers and employees. The calculation process includes determining the required amounts for social insurance (pension, medical, unemployment, work-related injury, and maternity) and the housing fund. These amounts are typically based on a percentage of the employee’s monthly salary, subject to certain caps and floors, as well as contribution rates set by local authorities. Accurate calculation is essential, as any underpayment or overpayment can result in financial penalties.

Once the calculations are complete, employers deduct the employee’s share from their salary and contribute the employer’s share as well. Contributions are usually made on a monthly basis and must be submitted to relevant government authorities by specified deadlines. Timely and accurate contributions ensure that employees receive the benefits they are entitled to and prevent legal repercussions for employers. Understanding the contribution process is crucial for both employers and employees to maintain compliance with China’s mandatory benefit regulations.

Deadlines and Frequencies

Contributions are typically required on a monthly basis, with employers and employees making their respective payments. The specific deadlines for contribution submissions may vary depending on the region, but adherence to these deadlines is critical to prevent fines and penalties.

Employers should maintain a reliable system for processing contributions and submitting them to the appropriate government authorities on time. Any delays can result in legal consequences, financial penalties, and disruptions to employees’ benefit entitlements. Employers should also keep abreast of any changes in deadlines, as these may be subject to adjustments by local authorities. Employees, on the other hand, should ensure that their contributions are withheld from their salaries and promptly submitted by their employers. Understanding and meeting these deadlines and frequencies is crucial to maintaining a compliant and lawful employment relationship in China while ensuring employees receive the benefits they are entitled to.

Tips for Efficient Mandatory Benefits Management

Outsourcing vs. In-house Management

When it comes to managing mandatory benefits in China, employers have a choice between outsourcing and in-house management. Each approach comes with its own set of advantages and considerations. Here, we’ll explore the benefits of outsourcing, including the use of Employer of Record (EOR) services, and the advantages of in-house management.


Outsourcing the management of mandatory benefits, particularly with the assistance of an EOR service like NNROAD, can provide numerous advantages. EOR services act as a bridge between the employer and the local labor and regulatory landscape in China. These services are well-versed in the complexities of compliance, taxation, and mandatory benefit contributions, ensuring that all obligations are met accurately and on time.

One of the significant benefits of EOR services is their expertise in navigating the ever-changing Chinese labor laws and regulations. They can help businesses stay up to date with legislative changes and ensure that benefit contributions are always in line with the latest requirements. This not only saves time and effort but also minimizes the risk of penalties resulting from non-compliance.

Moreover, EOR services can also simplify the onboarding and offboarding processes for employees, handle payroll and benefits administration, and provide comprehensive HR support. This allows employers to focus on their core business activities while ensuring full compliance with Chinese labor laws and regulations.

In-house Management:

In-house management, on the other hand, requires a dedicated HR and compliance team well-versed in the intricacies of China’s labor laws. While this approach provides complete control over the process, it can be more time-consuming and complex. Employers need to continually update their knowledge of changing regulations and invest in training and resources to maintain compliance.

Furthermore, in-house management may require significant administrative effort, from maintaining accurate records to handling contribution payments and government reporting. The risk of non-compliance, especially due to oversight or changing regulations, can lead to costly penalties and legal challenges.

In conclusion, choosing between outsourcing and in-house management of mandatory benefits in China depends on the resources, expertise, and business objectives of the employer. EOR services, like those provided by NNROAD, can significantly ease the burden of compliance and offer valuable support, making them a useful tool for businesses looking to ensure compliance while focusing on their core operations. Ultimately, the decision should align with the company’s strategic goals and its ability to effectively navigate the complexities of China’s labor laws and regulations.

Staying Informed about Regulatory Changes

The country’s labor laws and regulations are subject to frequent revisions, and keeping up-to-date is essential to ensure continued compliance. This includes monitoring changes in contribution rates, deadlines, and eligibility criteria, and being aware of new benefits or obligations. Regularly checking government sources, attending relevant seminars or workshops, and seeking professional advice can help individuals and organizations remain aware of and adapt to these evolving requirements, ultimately safeguarding their rights and ensuring they meet their obligations within the ever-changing regulatory environment.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What are the mandatory benefits in China?

A: Mandatory benefits in China include social insurance programs (pension, medical, unemployment, work-related injury, and maternity) and the housing fund. These benefits are crucial for ensuring the financial security, health, and well-being of employees.

Q: How are mandatory benefits contributions calculated?

A: Contributions for social insurance and the housing fund are typically calculated as a percentage of an employee’s monthly salary, subject to specific caps and floors. The exact rates may vary by region, and both employers and employees contribute their respective shares.

Q: Can I choose not to participate in mandatory benefit programs?

A: No, participation in these programs is mandatory for both employers and employees, and opting out is not allowed. Compliance with these obligations is a legal requirement.

Q: What are the consequences of non-compliance with mandatory benefits?

A: Non-compliance can lead to penalties, fines, suspension of business operations, and even the revocation of a company’s business license. It is essential to adhere to all regulatory requirements to avoid such consequences.

Q: How can I stay informed about regulatory changes in China?

A: Keeping track of changes in labor laws and regulations can be done by regularly checking government sources, attending seminars or workshops, and seeking professional advice. Staying informed ensures continued compliance with evolving requirements and protects both employees’ rights and employers’ interests in the dynamic regulatory landscape of China.


In conclusion, navigating the complex landscape of mandatory benefits in China demands vigilance, compliance, and a proactive approach. Employers and employees alike can streamline this process and ensure adherence to the ever-evolving regulations by considering the valuable support of Employer of Record (EOR) services like NNROAD. Take the proactive step towards simplified, accurate, and expert-guided management of mandatory benefits, allowing you to focus on your core business while safeguarding legal compliance and employee welfare.

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