3 family-friendly workplace policies and practices every working parent in China should know

Why paid parental leaves, breastfeeding breaks and facilities, and childcare are important

UNICEF China
UNICEF/China/2019/Li Manwei

19 July 2019

The first 1,000 days of life are when a child’s brain develops most rapidly. Research shows that providing your child with the right nutrition, stimulation and protection during this period — or eat, play, love —is one of the most effective ways to improve a child’s social and emotional skills, cognitive abilities and well-being.

But while all parents may want to do what’s best for their child, the reality is that not everyone manages to do so—either because they don’t have the option or are simply unaware of the policies available to for them. If you’re a parent with a baby or about to have a baby, here’s what you need to know about family friendly workplace policies and practices to make sure that you’re making the most of your child’s earliest years:

2016年,一名父亲在北京的家里背起两个孩子,与他们玩耍。

Paid parental leave policy in China

The Special Provisions of State Council states that mothers are entitled to 98 days paid maternity leave after they give birth. Because provincial regulations vary, some parents may be entitled to even more parental leave (either paid, partly paid, or unpaid) than required by national law. Knowing how much paid parental leave you have and, more importantly, making full use of it, will go a long way towards your child’s future.

What you can do: Know what parental leave is available for you and your spouse and use it.

Children of employees attending summer school in a company-supported kindergarten, on 11th July, 2019.
Children of employees attending summer school in a company-supported kindergarten. ©UNICEF/China/2019/Li Manwei

Childcare for working parents

For parents, nothing is more important than knowing your child is taken care of while you’re at work. Leaving your child in a childcare centre that can take care of your child’s needs is one way to get the best care for your child. While more and more businesses and companies are now considering setting up childcare spaces or centres in the workplace, many still do not provide this option. If you do not yet have a childcare centre in your workplace, talk to your employers and ask for quality and affordable childcare services or ask to be connected to childcare services in your community. Negotiate for the arrangement that works best for you and your company.

What you can do: Avail of or ask for childcare services in your workplace or ask to be connected to childcare services in your community.

Well-equipped breastfeeding room in a factory, on 11th July, 2019.
Well-equipped breastfeeding room in a factory in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province. ©UNICEF/China/2019/Li Manwei

Breastfeeding workplace policy in China

After they return to work, mothers are entitled to 1 hour of paid breastfeeding breaks every day until their child turns 1. This hour can be availed of as a whole or broken down into smaller units (for example, two breastfeeding breaks of 30 minutes each). Having a space where you can breastfeed is also important so if your workplace does not have a breastfeeding facility, talk to your employer and ask for one. The ideal breastfeeding space should be one that is clean, safe and easily accessible with a door, curtain or partition to provide privacy. It should have at least one power connector (for those who want to use a breast pump), a low comfortable chair for sitting, suitable storage space for safely storing breast milk (such as racks in a refrigerator or a small table), a wash basin or disposable hand sanitizer, and a small cupboard for storing the breast pump. It should not have any advertising or promotional material on infant formula or breastmilk substitute products. Because breastfeeding is by far the best form of nutrition you can provide to your child in their earliest years, making sure you have a place to breastfeed and that you make use of your breastfeeding breaks are two of the smartest things you can do for your child.

What you can do: Make use of breastfeeding breaks and advocate for breastfeeding facilities in your place of work if they aren’t yet available. 

To learn more about breastfeeding, visit UNICEF’s 10m2 of Love website.

To find out about breastfeeding spaces in your area, scan the QR code below to access our mobile app.

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