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Migrants win insurance break

SHANGHAI has asked city companies hiring migrant workers to pay higher social insurance for them.

The move is part of a bid to open employment insurance to more city outsiders.

Companies that employ migrant workers should pay the more expensive "urban social insurance" instead of the previous "comprehensive social insurance" from this month, the Shanghai Human Resources and Social Security Bureau said yesterday.

"Many migrant workers have requested the urban social insurance and that's the main reason we have issued the policy after some long research," said Zhang Yuan, of the bureau's media office.

Urban social insurance will provide a migrant worker with a pension, higher medical insurance, birth insurance and unemployment insurance.

If a migrant worker is paid 2,000 yuan (US$292) a month, his or her employer needs to pay 493 yuan more for the new insurance. Payment due by the migrant worker will now be 220 yuan, up from zero.

"We expect to pay for urban insurance, especially when it relates to our pension," said Shen Houping, 33, a Jiangsu native who has been working in Shanghai for 16 years."

The bureau said the regulation was mandatory for all employers, but it would not impose strict inspections, especially amid the ongoing economic crisis.

"If I have 100 migrant workers, I'll have to pay 500,000 to 600,000 yuan more - that's not a trivial figure," said Zhu Bingming, general manager of Architecture and Installation Engineering Co of Shanghai-Tongxiang, a local construction company.

"I hope the policy is flexible. It will be much better if enterprises can pay the insurance based on their economic strength."

About 6.5 million migrant workers are employed in the city, but less than half enjoy comprehensive social insurance, said Ren Yuan, deputy director of Fudan University's population research institute.

"The policy will raise a company's costs in the short term, but in a long run, it helps to inspire workers to stay and work hard," Ren said.


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