5 Things to Consider Before Changing Jobs in China

5 Things to Consider Before Changing Jobs in China
Jan 02, 2020 By Cian Dineen , eChinacities.com

So, you’ve reached the point where you are considering changing jobs in China. It can be stressful and it can be emotional, but more than anything it brings about a period of transition that disrupts your entire routine, especially if you’re moving industry, role, or city. There are several things to consider before changing jobs in China. Some may seem more obvious or significant than others, but all need to be thought through before you make that big leap.

5 Things to Consider Before Changing Jobs in China
Photo: Markus Lompa 

Is your visa close to renewal?

You need a working visa to legally work in China. This visa is sponsored by your employer, so, if you change employer, you also need to change your visa. Although not as complicated and time consuming as applying for your first China work visa, transferring your visa to a new company is not without its hassles.

It already takes long enough to renew your visa when you’re staying in the same company, but transferring your visa to a new company takes even longer. If your current visa is still valid for three or more months, you’ll usually have time to go through this process relatively stress free. However, if your current visa is nearly expired, you might run the risk of not having enough time to get everything arranged. It’s not the end of the world if so, as the bureau can give extensions on your current visa or give you a temporary visa as long as the new visa process has started. But the more leeway you give yourself the less of a headache it will be.

Do you have possession of your work permit?

As well as having a working visa in their passport, foreigners working in China should also have a work permit card. Some expats never actually see these cards or even know they exist, however, as many companies like to keep hold of them. The reasons for this are not necessarily sinister. The work permit is needed for a lot of HR processes so it’s often just more convenient for the office to hold onto it.

However, the work permit is important, especially if you’re considering switching jobs. It could save any potential drama or headaches if you’re in possession of your permit when you decide to make that switch. If things turn nasty with your employer for whatever reason, it’s best that they can’t hold your papers hostage.

There’s no reason to be confrontational when asking for the card. It is sometimes needed for things like opening a bank account or police registration, so use one of these as an excuse and get your card in hand without raising any alarms.

Are you close to missing out on an annual bonus in your current job?

If you’re working in a Chinese company, there’s a good chance you’ll receive an annual bonus at Chinese New Year. For some, this can be one month’s salary. For others, it can be six months or more. Either way, it’s nothing to be sniffed at. If you’re considering changing jobs and it’s close to the festival, maybe hold out long enough to receive it. Of course, however, Chinese companies are more clued into this trick than anybody and the annual bonus payment can therefore often be broken up and staggered over the course of the year, just to stop freeloaders like you pulling a swift one.

Alternatively, use the fact that you’re going to lose your annual bonus in your old job as leverage when negotiating the contract for your new job. It might be possible to get a signing bonus to compensate the annual bonus you’re walking away from.

Do you have commercial health insurance in your current job?

Commercial health insurance is one of the perks foreigners enjoy in some Chinese companies. Having that peace of mind, not to mention not having to fork out as much as 20,000 RMB of your own money, is priceless.

If you’re in a company that offers such coverage but you’re looking to move on, make sure to check if the new role comes with something similar. The salary at the new job might be higher, but if they don’t offer commercial health insurance you may find yourself worse off overall. If that’s the case, try to negotiate for insurance to be included in your new package or at least ask for a salary bump to cover the cost of buying it yourself.

Furthermore, it’s worth getting the most out of your current health insurance package before switching jobs. Most coverage plans have caps on spending, so if there’s anything you want to get checked out or any therapy you could do with, max those caps out before changing jobs.

Do you have any holiday days left?

Annual leave is like gold dust in China, especially in Chinese companies. Make sure you use every single holiday day before changing jobs.

Technically, if you hand in your notice you’re within your rights to take any remaining annual leave, effectively meaning you can stop working earlier. There’s always a chance, however, that your company will ask you to leave immediately, causing you to miss out on that final paycheck and the chance to take some paid leave.

Just to be safe then, it’s best to use those holiday days before you hand in your notice. It may be slightly underhand, but it’s the surest way to get the paid leave you’re owed. As China gives employees very few days off anyway, you’ve got to maximize them when you can.

What else should you consider before changing jobs in China? Tell us in the comments section below.

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Keywords: changing jobs in China


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This comments are not encouraging.

Jan 06, 2020 13:37 Report Abuse


Based on my own experience, I would say that the information in this article is quite accurate.

Jan 06, 2020 11:52 Report Abuse


" Some expats never actually see these cards or even know they exist, however, as many companies like to keep hold of them. The reasons for this are not necessarily sinister. The work permit is needed for a lot of HR processes so it’s often just more convenient for the office to hold onto it." You couldn't be any more full of it, could you? The reason for holding the WorK Permit Card is because most of them are fake. Period.

Jan 03, 2020 01:02 Report Abuse


Common practice in Xiamen city( Fujian Province) is for companies to withhold documents, cancel permits and not allow transfers to new companies. Very restrictive practices. Best not to work in Xiamen, and have a clear transfer process in writing from the company. guarantee yourself a 15-30 day expiry window of your residence permit to allow transferring. Otherwise you will have to leave the country and start the application again from your home country. I have seen this countless times in Xiamen.

Jan 02, 2020 15:09 Report Abuse


It is a common practice everywhere in China, not only in Xiamen. On the same grounds, just as you stated, teachers end up running like abandoned pets to find new owners and be petted for "great teachers" while the owner's pockets get filled in. Teaching industry in China is a circus show, and we are its monkeys. As you said, I have seen many fellow teachers treated likewise. Loyalty from teachers is weakness. Gratitude from the employers is "losing face", a weakness that cannot be forgiven neither by themselves nor any of the same native cultural breed.

Jan 03, 2020 01:14 Report Abuse