China to bolster support for childbirth, parenting

Chinese authorities have issued a guideline introducing a raft of policies for prenatal and postnatal support to promote balanced long-term population development.

These measures include better maternal care services and public-benefit childcare services, improved maternity and parental leave policies, preferential policies on housing and taxation, and the fostering of fertility-friendly workplaces, according to the guideline released Tuesday by the National Health Commission in collaboration with 16 other departments.

In recent years, China has seen a growing number of people covered by maternity insurance.

In 2021, the number reached 240 million, 1.5 times that of 2012.The newly released guideline said local governments may explore ways to expand the coverage of maternity insurance to include workers in flexible employment.It also noted other measures, such as building a fertility-friendly workplace, encouraging flexible working practices, and safeguarding people’s lawful labor and employment rights and interests.

Hong Sha, an official with the All-China Federation of Trade Unions, said that more efforts, including providing lactation rooms, will be made to address working mothers’ concerns.

According to the guideline, the country has introduced preferential policies on housing to help reduce the burdens on families.

Families with more than one child can enjoy favorable treatment when applying for public-rental housing (PRH). These include priority to select relatively larger homes, shortened waiting time for PRH, and replacing their units with larger ones as the family population increases, it said.

By the end of 2021, more than 1.1 million families with minors, 69,000 with three children, and 23,000 facing special difficulties for the loss or disability of their only children had been able to access PRH, said Pan Wei with the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development.