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June 1, 2011

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Social insurance for foreigners

CHINA is drafting details of its 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.

Xu Yanjun, deputy director of the ministry's social security center, said foreign employees in China will be able to enjoy the same social insurance benefits as Chinese nationals under the law, Xinhua news agency reported.

The law will go into effect on July 1.

It specifies that all workers will have the right to five forms of insurance: basic endowment insurance, 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 are limited to having work injury insurance and basic medical insurance, Xu said.

The sixth national census last November recorded more than 1 million foreigners and people from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan working and living on the Chinese mainland.

In Shanghai, this group numbered 208,602 people.

Sanjay Santiago from Thailand who works in Shanghai, welcomed the initiative and hoped his employer would apply for him.

If he has no social insurance in his home country and his Chinese employer does not pay it either, he will have nothing to live on when he's too old to work, Santiago said.

"It's a kind of saving. They're saving for us," he said. "When I leave the country, it will be great that I can bring home a certain amount of money."

Shanghai pioneered allowing certain foreigners join the city's social insurance project in 2009. Foreigners and overseas Chinese who hold a Shanghai residence card and stay in a work contract with a local employer can enjoy the city's social security and benefits.

An employee must pay into social insurance for 15 years to receive a pension, although those who are ineligible or leave China before they retire can claim back their pension contributions.


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