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Paid Vacation in China: What Are Your Rights?

Paid Vacation in China: What Are Your Rights?

Summer is coming, and if you’ve come to China to study and work, you may be wondering about those precious moments, the vacation time. Maybe you’ve heard in the news that a third of workers in China never enjoyed paid vacation days or that almost 20% are frequently working on the weekend. In this article, you will learn what rights you have as an employee in China.

How much vacation time you are entitled too

The Chinese labor laws state that every employee that has worked continuously for 12 months is entitled to paid annual leave. The legal vacation period is as follows.


  • Between 1 year and 10 years of service, you receive 5 days of vacation (1 week)
  • Between 10 and 20 years of service, you receive 10 days of vacation (2 weeks)
  • More than 20 years of service you receive 15 days of vacation (3 weeks)

You need to know that “years of service” refers to the total years of employment, regardless of the employer. This means that even if you are a new employee somewhere, you can have the right to a paid annual vacation during your first year there, as long you have worked continuously for one year. Some companies offer more vacation time than the statutory minimum, but only if it specified in their vacation time rules and regulations. 

When you are not allowed any vacation time

But there are times when, in certain circumstances, you will not be entitled to your annual vacation time in the current year. 

  • You have taken summer and winter break longer than the legal annual leave
  • You have taken more than 20 days of personal leave
  • If you have between 1 and 10 years of service and have taken more than 2 months of sick leave
  • If you have between 10 and 20 years of service and have taken more than 3 months of sick leave
  • If you have more than 20 years of service and have taken more than 4 months of sick leave

If you are refused to take vacation time

If you want to take a vacation time each year, it is your employer’s job to make the arrangements. Whatever vacation time you have left unused in one year, you can carry it the next year. You can only postpone the vacation time for one year. 

Important! If your employer fails to allow you to take your rightful annual leave, they are obligated to pay you 300% of your daily waves for every unused vacation day. This payment is invalid, and you will not receive the 300% payment if you have voluntarily chosen not to take your vacation days. Some people give up their vacation days because they are afraid they will lose their job. But recently, this way of thinking is changing.

Most employers proceed with extra caution when an employee volunteers. This is because if you claim compensation for unused vacation time and your company is unable to produce evidence you have volunteered, they will be obligated to pay your 300% daily wage for each vacation day.

Big companies sometimes “forget” about the vacation time

There are a lot of foreign international companies that aren't fully aware of the Chinese labor laws regarding the 300% payment and find themselves paying a lot of money to Chinese employees. You don’t have to be shocked if your employer asks you to take all your vacation time, or if that is not possible, to make you sign a document in Chinese that states it was your own decision to forsake your vacation time.

If you think your vacation time is not enough, you don’t have to worry. In China many people from the working class travel during National Day holiday, which, unlike foreign holidays, lasts seven days. But be aware! Because there are a lot of people that travel during that period, the prices for hotel rooms or airplane tickets can skyrocket.

 You should take your vacation days each year, and not delay it for the next year. This way you avoid any unnecessary paperwork, not to mention that you will get to relax during your free time and this way become more productive.

Photo credit: Jakob Montrasio

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