It can be hard to know what to expect from an employer in China. While we’re familiar with employment norms back home, in China, we’re often left guessing about the difference between a poor deal and a good one. Although it differs from industry to industry and employer to employer, some companies offer some great perks that’ll make your working life in China a whole lot easier. If you stumble across any of the following during the recruitment process, you know you’re onto a winner.
Visa Application Support
Preparing and processing your work visa is one of the most stressful parts of expat life in China. If the company you’re onboarding with has offered to assist with the application, you’re already saving yourself a major headache. One step better is if the company really knows what they’re doing, as one that doesn’t is sometimes more hassle than it’s worth.
You know you’re onto a winner if the employer has an established process in place to handle applications and the HR staff are proactive and experienced. They tell you exactly what you need to sort yourself while handling everything else in-house, including any enquiries from the government. Professional support in applying for your work visa is a clear indication that your new employer is experienced in hiring foreigners and will support you in other ways throughout your employment.
Commercial Health Insurance
It’s worth pointing out that this is different to social insurance, the basic national health insurance all China-based employees are entitled to. Your company should automatically have you signed up for that, and if they don’t, it’s actually a red flag. While social insurance provides some basic healthcare coverage, commercial health insurance is what you really want, if possible.
You may not be able to get comprehensive health insurance that covers both inpatient and outpatient services all over the world, but there are companies, especially foreign ones, that offer very generous private inpatient coverage for mainland and Greater China. That way, if anything serious happens, you can rest assured you have nothing to worry about when it comes to paying the bill in a nice private hospital.
Housing Provident Fund
The Housing Provident Fund (HPF) is a voluntarily program where employees can choose to pay 8-10 percent of their salary into a personal savings fund. Your commitment will be matched by your employer and held temporarily by the government. You can withdraw 80 percent of the total amount immediately each month, while the rest remains in the fund. That remaining money can be accessed to help purchase a house in China or withdrawn completely if you decide to leave China permanently. Furthermore, your payments into the fund are tax deductible.
Fairly common among locals, the scheme was only opened up to foreigners in recent years, so many employers in China are yet to offer it to their expat staff. It may not be something that comes up normally in the recruitment process, but be sure to ask if you want it. Even if the company does not currently offer it, you can push and ask if they’d be willing to. It can add up to a lot of money over a number of years and is worth the extra admin effort, in my opinion.
You’re most likely to find this perk offered to teachers at international schools and managers or specialists in manufacturing. Furthermore, it can take a number of forms. Your company accommodation may be a glorified dorm room on the site of the factory, a tiny bedsit next to the school, a modest apartment allocated through the local government’s talent scheme, or even a luxury two-story spot right in the heart of downtown.
For those who aren’t offered company accommodation, you may find that the company provides some accommodation allowance instead. Failing that, you could try to negotiate a higher salary, arguing that your salary expectations were based on the assumption that accommodation was included. As I said, however, you’re unlikely to get very far with this one unless you work in teaching or manufacturing.
Extra Annual Leave Days
Expats in China, especially those from Europe, are usually accustomed to a large amount of annual leave each year. These foreigners often get a rude awakening when they find out their prospective employer in China is offering only the standard five days a year (on top of national holidays) to new hires.
First thing’s first, you need to accept that it’s highly unlikely you’re going to get the same amount of days off as you did back home. At least not from a Chinese company, and you’d be surprised how many international employers in China cynically follow the local lead. A number of China-Based companies realize, however, that foreign staff have different expectations when it comes to annual leave. A compromise of 10 annual leave days in addition to the standard Chinese holidays tends to be the benchmark at the companies offering extra leave. If you find this is the case with your new company, think yourself lucky. If not, you may be able to nab yourself a few extra days as part of your contract negotiations.
Annual Paid Flight Home
Most commonly seen offered as part of a teaching contract, annual paid flights home normally constitute one return flight back to your home country during the summer holidays. You may occasionally see them offered in other industries where the times and destinations of the flights are not so arbitrary and the employee is free to take their paid flights throughout the year to anywhere they choose within the budget.
If you have a choice or feel confident enough to negotiate, try to lock in the latter type of arrangement. If you’re smart and/or you don’t want to go home for summer every year, you might be able to make the flight budget stretch to multiple trips around Asia. Whichever way you do it, having a travel budget is a sure-fire sign that you’re onto a winner with an employer in China.
Substantial Annual Bonus
Annual bonuses are not as important in the West as they are in China. Sure, there may be a nice little something extra at Christmas, but the payouts are rarely on the scale of what’s seen at some Chinese companies. Seriously hefty bonuses are unlikely to be found at foreign companies operating in China, and there are also many industries where bonuses are not at all common.
Those working with a Chinese employer in manufacturing, particularly in the field of tech, however, should be keeping a very keen eye out for annual bonuses. You may just get the so-called 13th month salary, but there’s often talk of some of China’s biggest companies, like Huawei and Tencent, paying out anything from six months to a full year’s salary as a bonus. Even if you don’t work for one of the big hitters, many Chinese tech companies will offer sizable payouts to staff if they’ve had a good year. As outlined here, however, bonuses are never guaranteed, so get something in your contract if possible and don’t rely on a promised bonus to make up an otherwise poor salary.
What else are clear signs of a good employer in China? Tell us in the comments section below.
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Apr 26, 2021 15:33 Report Abuse
you know you are on to a winner when your potential employer replies to your questions, such as pay and conditions, in WRITING, and will happily supply names of former employees as references. Everything else is standard to working in China, not a bonus.
Mar 27, 2021 18:58 Report Abuse