Article 97 of the Social Insurance Law of the People's Republic of China, which was adopted by the National People's Congress in October 2010 and entered into force on 1 July 2011, stipulates that "Foreign nationals who are employed in the Chinese territory shall enrol in the social insurance system in accordance with this law".
On 6 September 2011, the Chinese Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MoHRSS) released the Interim Measures for the Participation in Social Insurance of Foreign Nationals Employed in China ("Interim Measures"), obliging them to join the basic pension insurance, basic medical insurance, work injury insurance, unemployment insurance and maternity insurance programmes as of 15 October 2011. Prior to this, MoHRSS solicited in early June public opinion on a set of proposed provisions.
Under the Interim Measures, employers should complete the social insurance registration for foreign employees within 30 days of the issuance of employment permits to foreign employees, and both employers and their foreign employees must pay social insurance contributions in accordance with the relevant regulations.
Foreigners employed in China refer to people without Chinese nationality legally employed in China, who have obtained Permanent Residence Certificates for Foreigners as well as valid employment permits such as the Employment Permit for Foreigners, the Certificate of Foreign Experts and the Certificate of Permanent Foreign Correspondent.
The social insurance individual account will be retained for those foreigners who leave China before reaching retirement age, whose contribution years will continue to accumulate upon their return to work in China. In case of a personal written application for termination of social insurance relationship, however, the applicant can redeem his or her individual account accumulation in lump sum while the employer contributions will go to the local pooling fund. The individual account savings can be inherited in case of the death of a foreign employee.
Foreigners receiving monthly social insurance benefits outside China must submit annually to the benefit-disbursing social insurance agency a certificate of existence issued by the Chinese embassy/consulate or one that is authenticated by the relevant notary agency in their country of domicile and certified by the Chinese embassy/consulate. Social insurance agencies will issue social insurance numbers and cards to both Chinese citizens and foreign employees.
For foreign employees who are nationals of countries that have signed bilateral or multilateral social insurance agreements with China, however, participation will be handled in accordance with such agreements. To date, only Germany and the Republic of Korea have entered into bilateral agreements with China.
According to official statistics, there were about 600,000 foreigners living in mainland China by the end of 2010, of which 231,700 had work permits. While enhancing the social protection for foreign employees, the Interim Measures will also increase the financial burden of foreign employees and their employers in China, and provoke a growing demand for bilateral and multilateral social security agreements.
http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2011-06/29/content_12797988.htm; http://www.china-briefing.com/news/2011/09/13/foreigner-participation-in-chinas-social-insurance-system-now-mandatory.html; http://www.jdsupra.com/post/documentViewer.aspx?fid=d1bf3c19-4157-471b-a1bd-3599921d12f9; http://www.mohrss.gov.cn/page.do?pa=402880202405002801240882b84702d7&guid=53d6746e1a154e9d848020051c118795&og=4028802023e4c2330123e9a140f60ad7(in Chinese only)
Legislation date: 10.2010
Implementation date: 07.2011