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Annual Leave in China – A Guide for Overseas Employers

China has many unique rules and customs when it comes to employment, and if you are hiring employees then your company is subject to Chinese regulations.  This will include all employee statutory benefits, including annual leave or vacation days.

If you are new to the country, how will you learn how to apply the correct annual leave entitlements for your employees?  How will you handle the situation where the annual leave in China differs from your home country, or even between employees in China?

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Annual Leave Amounts in China

The first thing to know about leave in China is that it accrues based on the number of years of employment.  However, those years are counted cumulatively and include time with all Chinese employers, and not just the current employer.

Here are the minimum annual leave days based on the number of years of cumulative employment:

  • Less than 1 year – no leave
  • 1-10 years – 5 days 
  • 10-20 years – 10 days 
  • Over 20 years – 15 days

It is not hard to imagine that this system might cause confusion for foreign employers in China, who are used to annual leave being calculated solely based on length of service to the current employer.

Client Case Example


One of our clients hired an employee in China who has worked there since the year 2000 (with different employers), so the employee wanted to know if he could expect 10 days of annual leave since he had worked more than 10 years in China. 

Our client had told him that after his probation period, he would only receive 5 days leave, since he was a relatively new employee to their company.


We reached out to our client and had to inform them that the employment period for leave qualification did not ‘refresh’ with each new employer.  In other words, time spent with all of the previous employers in China would be included in the qualifying period, so he was indeed entitled to 10 days of leave under the Chinese rules.

Need More Information About China?

This example illustrates how easy it is to misinterpret unusual employment laws, and why having local resources and in country experts can be essential.  If you are hiring employees in China, you may need more information, such as:

How to calculate leave days for employees that have previous employment in China?

What is the best way to handle varying leave amounts (based on cumulative employment) between employees that may have an equal length of service with your company?

Our local employer of record in China is prepared to help manage these types of issues, as well as ensuring immigration, payroll and tax compliance.  We make international employment simple.

 Need more information about employing in a new country? Learn more about:



Looking to Hire an Employee in China? Get in touch.

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