China to extend social insurance coverage to foreign employees

China is drafting details of the Social Insurance Law that will allow it to apply to foreign employees, a senior official with the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security said Monday.

Xu Yanjun, deputy director of the ministry’s social security center, said at a news conference that foreign employees in China will be able to enjoy social insurance benefits as Chinese nationals under the law.

The law, adopted by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, will go into effect on July 2011.

The law specifies that all workers will have the right to five forms of insurance: basic endowment ensurance, basic medical insurance, work injury insurance, unemployment insurance and maternity insurance.

The law will also ensure that workers from countries that have signed bilateral social insurance agreements with China will be able to avoid paying two premiums, Xu said.

Most foreign workers currently living and working in China’s larger cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai, are limited to having work injury insurance and basic medical insurance, according to Xu.

In recent years, more foreigners from southeast Asian countries have found jobs in both labor-intensive areas and large cities in China, Xu said.

Unlike wealthy investors and senior marketing and technical executives who have relocated to China from overseas in the past, these foreign workers are largely unskilled and unable to get work visas, he said.

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