Luo Wangshu Cao Yin

In Bei­jing.

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA -

who en­roll in China’s so­cial in­sur­ance pro­gram are el­i­gi­ble to re­ceive ben­e­fits in five cat­e­gories — med­i­cal, re­tire­ment, work in­jury, un­em­ploy­ment and ma­ter­nity — just like their Chi­nese coun­ter­parts.

Em­ploy­ees pay about 10 per­cent of their to­tal monthly in­come to the pro­gram, while their em­ploy­ers con­trib­ute 33 to 40 per­cent of the monthly con­tri­bu­tion.

Con­fus­ingly, though, the reg­u­la­tions and im­ple­men­ta­tion, in­clud­ing monthly de­duc­tions, vary from place to place ac­cord­ing to the pri­or­i­ties of the lo­cal govern­ment.

In Bei­jing, for ex­am­ple, a for­eigner earn­ing a monthly salary of more than 15,669 yuan ($2,590), pays 1,286 yuan a month, while their em­ployer pays 5,610 yuan. How­ever, in Chongqing, an ex­pat on a monthly wage of more than 11,349 yuan pays 1,137 yuan and the em­ployer pays 3,745 yuan to 4,549 yuan. In­ter­na­tional prac­tice

Ger­many, South Korea and Den­mark have all signed bi­lat­eral so­cial in­sur­ance agree­ments with China, mean­ing peo­ple from those coun­tries don’t have to make con­tri­bu­tions in both coun­tries.

Xi Heng, a pro­fes­sor of so­cial in­sur­ance at North­west Univer­sity in Xi’an, said it’s com­mon in­ter­na­tional prac­tice for ex­pats to be cov­ered by the so­cial in­sur­ance sys­tem of the host coun­try.

Xu Yan­jun, an of­fi­cial from the Min­istry of Hu­man Re­sources and So­cial Se­cu­rity, said that it’s usual for ex­pats to be cov­ered this way be­cause it helps to pro­tect their rights.

Al­though she has doubts about its im­ple­men­ta­tion, Jac­quin wel­comed the pol­icy. “It’s a very good thing that the Chi­nese govern­ment is push­ing and build­ing the so­cial in­sur­ance sys­tem, treat­ing ex­pats the same as Chi­nese and aim­ing to pro­vide safety and se­cu­rity for work­ers from over­seas.”

Jac­quin de­scribed the sys­tem as ag­gres­sive, but of­ten in­ef­fec­tual. “The con­cept is great, but the pol­icy lacks clear guid­ance for im­ple­men­ta­tion.” A lack of guid­ance

Liu Dong­sheng, from the Chongqing hu­man re­sources and

In the­ory, I should be able to use my so­cial in­sur­ance card at a hos­pi­tal for large prob­lems, but I don’t think it cov­ers small visits. No one has re­ally ex­plained ex­actly what I can and can­not

use it for.” MICHAEL STAN­DAERT JOUR­NAL­IST IN SHEN­ZHEN, GUANG­DONG PROV­INCE

so­cial in­sur­ance bureau, con­ceded that im­ple­men­ta­tion lacks clear, de­tailed guid­ance.

“For ex­am­ple, the pen­sion can only be col­lected by for­eign­ers who’ve worked in China for more than 15 years, but most ex­pats only work here for a short time. Even those who have worked in China for the spec­i­fied time are vague about how to col­lect their pen­sion,” he said.

Jac­quin also ques­tioned the pol­icy, say­ing it’s un­fair to ex­pats who work in China for short pe­ri­ods of time.

Oth­ers were con­cerned about un­em­ploy­ment and ma­ter­nity ben­e­fits. Ju­lia, a for­eign worker in Bei­jing who would only give her first name, doesn’t have so­cial in­sur­ance and has no plans to en­roll.

“I don’t see the ben­e­fit,” said the 29-year-old. “For ex­am­ple, my work visa is tied to my job. Once I be­come un­em­ployed, I have to leave the coun­try, so how can I col­lect the money?”

She was also un­sure about the scale of ma­ter­nity in­sur­ance and won­dered if her cover will still be valid if she has more than one child.

Jour­nal­ist Michael Stan­daert en­rolled in the so­cial in­sur­ance pro­gram in Shen­zhen, Guang­dong prov­ince. “In the­ory, I should be able to use my so­cial in­sur­ance card at a hos­pi­tal for large prob­lems, but I don’t think it cov­ers small visits. No one has re­ally ex­plained ex­actly what I can and can­not use it for,” he wrote in an e-mail. He said he hasn’t vis­ited the hos­pi­tal since he ob­tained the card.

In ad­di­tion to the State pro­gram, Stan­daert be­gan pay­ing for pri­vate health in­sur­ance in 2012.

Other ex­pats ques­tioned the value of the med­i­cal in­sur­ance, say­ing the cover is use­less for non-Chi­nese speak­ers.

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