China: Better late than never – Shenzhen launches new maternity insurance policy for employees

Last Updated: 31 August 2015
Article by Yin Juquan and Zhang Yuanhao

The Shenzhen Municipal Bureau of Human Resources and Social Security ("SMBHRSS") recently issued the "Implementation Measures of the 'Rules of Guangdong Province on Maternity Insurance for Employees'" (Hereinafter as the "Implementation Measures"), which includes a series of operation specifications in accordance with the "Rules of Guangdong Province on Maternity Insurance for Employees" (Hereinafter as the "Rules"), as well as in combination with the local practice. Below is the summary of several key points of the "Implementation Measures" to present the updates of legal practice on maternity insurance in Shenzhen.

Maternity insurance funds start to assume the maternity allowances

Although the "Special Rules on the Labor Protection of Female Employees" issued by the State Council in 2012 has clearly stipulated that the maternity allowance for female employees who have participated in maternity insurance during their maternity leave shall be paid by the maternity insurance fund. But compared with cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, this provision has not been really enforced in Shenzhen until the promulgation of the "Implementation Measures". Before the "Implementation Measures" was issued, neither the female employees themselves who have participated in maternity insurance nor the employers were able to apply for the maternity allowances from the maternity insurance funds. Instead, the employers were requested to pay full salary to employees in maternity leave by local regulations. The "Implementation Measures" ensures the maternity allowances benefits provided by the maternity insurance funds and reduces the heavy burdens of the employers at the same time, which will be helpful to mitigate the labor unrest.

The "Implementation Measures" stipulate that the maternity allowances shall be calculated and paid to an employee as per the average monthly wages of the employer in the previous year. Where the amount of maternity allowances is lower than the employee's regular salary standard, the employer shall make up the difference. When the employees are on maternity leaves in accordance with the provisions of the state or doing family planning surgeries, the maternity allowances shall be advanced as the wage of the employee by the employer month by month. Where the employees have paid maternity insurance accumulatively for longer than one year and the employer has paid the maternity allowance to the employees in advance, the employer may apply for the maternity allowance from the municipal social insurance agencies within one year after delivery or the family planning surgery. Where the employees have not paid maternity insurance accumulatively for one year while delivery or the family planning surgery, the employer may apply for the maternity allowance form the municipal social insurance agencies after the accumulative term of maternity social insurance payment has reached 12 months and within one year after the employer paid maternity allowances to the employee.

Contribution proportion on maternity insurance is determined as 1% of the aggregate salaries of last month

Before the "Implementation Measures" was issued, the maternity insurance payment in Shenzhen was regulated by the "Measures of Shenzhen City for Social Medical Insurance" (Hereinafter as the "Measures"). According to the "Measures", the contribution base of maternity insurance payment is the same as the base of medical Insurance. To be specific, the contribution base of the first grade is the employee's monthly wage, while the contribution base of the second grade is the monthly average wage of employees in Shenzhen last year. The contribution proportion of these two grades are respectively 0.5% and 0.2%.

The "Implementation Measures" makes contribution base of maternity insurance payment as the employees' aggregate wages of last month and set it 1%. The proportion has reached the highest limit according to the "Rules". It changes the situation where the maternity insurance has been attached to the basic medical insurance in Shenzhen for a long time. This change separates the maternity insurance from the basic medical insurance and satisfies "independent account" required by the "Rules".

Simplify the procedures for employees to reimburse maternity-related medical fees

Compared with the "Rules", the "Implementation Measures" simplifies procedures for employees to reimburse maternity-related medical fees, the key aspects are as follows:

  1. Charge by card

The "Rules" stipulates that the employees, who have participated in maternity insurance over a year, should finish the medical treatment confirmation procedure in prior to reimburse maternity-related medical fees.

According to the "Implementation Measures", the employees, who have participated in maternity insurance over a year, may pay maternity-related medical fees in designated medical institutions by card after providing related evidence. In other words, the eligible employees don't need to fill in the prior application form which is required by the "Rules" to finish the medical treatment confirmation procedures.

  1. Simplify the application materials

Article 27 of the "Rules" stipulates that the employees who have participated in maternity insurance less than one year, should submit related materials including employment contract or evidence of employment and wage payment voucher, when they apply for reimbursement.

While in the same situation, the "Implementation Measures" don't demand the materials including employment contract or evidence of employment and wage payment voucher and the business license and certificate of registration or the certificate of organization code . It lowers the standard that is set by the "Rules".

  1. Shorten administrative response time

The "Implementation Measures" stipulates that when employees apply for a lump sum reimbursement of the maternity-related medical fees or maternity allowance, the social insurance agencies should deny the application in written form and explain reasons within 15 days after receiving the application if they find the application is not eligible. The time limit has been reduced by half compared to "30 days" in the "Rules". The waiting time of the applicants will be saved and to some extent it urges the agencies to improve the efficiency.

Make sure the unemployed spouse of employees can enjoy maternity medical benefits

The "Social Insurance Law", which was issued in 2010, has entitled unemployed spouse of employees to enjoy maternity medical benefits in accordance with national regulations. But many local authorities haven't enact corresponding rules so that this right to enjoy medical benefits merely becomes formalistic.

The "Implementation Measures" stipulates that the unemployed spouse of employees who have participated in maternity insurance can apply for a lump sum reimbursement, within one year after having maternity-related medical fees. Specifically, the unemployed spouse of employees can submit the maternity insurance medical fee application form of Shenzhen City, the social security card and the employee's ID to SMBHRSS, in order to apply a lump sum reimbursement for corresponding maternity-related fees.

Before the "Social Insurance Law" was promulgated, even after the law was issued, many local authorities set that only female employees can enjoy the maternity medical benefits. For example, "Measures of the Shanghai Municipality for Urban Maternity Insurance" definitely stipulates that only registered permanent female residents can enjoy the maternity medical benefits. If the unemployed spouses of employees do not have the registered permanent residence of this Municipality, they cannot enjoy the maternity medical benefits in Shanghai. The"Social Insurance Law" issued in 2010 has entitled unemployed spouse of employees to enjoy the maternity medical benefits and now the "Implementation Measures" further provides specific enforcement guidelines in Shenzhen in this regard.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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