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PRC Labour Law - Bitesize

29 May 2013
Mayer Brown JSM Newsletter

Wages, Overtime and Compensation

How many days of sick leave is an employee entitled to in China, and how is sick leave pay calculated?

This depends on whether or not the employee's sickness or injury is work-related.

With respect to work-related sickness or injury, the employee is generally entitled to up to 12 months' sick leave with full pay, subject to provision of appropriate supporting medical certificate.

For non-work-related sickness or injury, the law is silent on the maximum number of days of sick leave. However, an employer cannot unilaterally terminate the employment with the employee during a "medical treatment period". The duration of the medical treatment period ranges from 3 to 24 months depending on the length of the employee's service years with previous and current employers and the current employer.

The table below sets out the medical treatment period:

Service years with previous and current employers Service years with current employer  Medical treatment period
< 10 years  < 5 years  3 months
 = 5 years  6 months
= 10 years
 < 5 years  6 months
 = 5 years and < 10 years  9 months
 = 10 years and < 15 years  12 months
 = 15 years and < 20 years  18 months
 = 20 years  24 months

The medical treatment period starts from the first day of the sick leave and is calculated cumulatively within a prescribed time period. For example, if an employee is entitled to a medical treatment period of 3 months, then his/her sick leave days can be counted accumulatively over a period of 6 months.

The table below sets out the period within which sick leave counting towards the medical treatment period may be taken:

Sick leave entitlement for medical treatment period Period within which sick leave counting towards medical treatment period may be taken
 3 months  6 months
 6 months  12 months
 9 months  15 months
 12 months  18 months
 18 months  24 months
 24 months  30 months

The regulations at the national level require that the amount of pay during the non-work-related sick leave must not be less than 80 percent of the minimum wage published by the local government from time to time.

However, having said that, some cities may have different local rules in respect of the calculation of the medical treatment period and the minimum sick leave pay.

Can I unilaterally terminate the employment of the employee during his/her sick leave period?

An employer is prohibited from terminating the employment of any employee during the medical treatment period, unless any of the circumstances under article 39 of the PRC Labour Contract Law occurs (e.g., if the employee materially breaches the employer’s rules and regulations), as explained in our PRC Bitesize of 17 April 2013. If the expiry date of a fixed-term contract falls within a medical treatment period, the term of the employment contract will be extended automatically to the end of the medical treatment period.

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