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Shanghai to Cover Childbirth Cost, Offer Stipends

Under new regulations that come into force November 1, the Shanghai municipal government will cover basic birth-related medical expenses for new mothers and provide a monthly stipend for those who take maternity leave from their jobs.

Even unemployed women who have just given birth can get a stipend. So for them, it'll be the equivalent of a welfare payment, said officials with the municipal Labor and Social Security Bureau.

The somewhat complex rules also include extra payments for deliveries with complications and to women aged 24 years or older who give birth.

They even cover abortions that are authorized under the nation's family planning policies, such as having only one child.

"Among all the municipalities and provinces that have similar rules, Shanghai covers the widest range of women," said bureau spokesman Bo Fengyi.

Bureau Deputy Director Ye Mingzhong added: "The rules will guarantee the basic life needs and medical care for pregnant women who qualify under the program, lessen the economic burden of companies and public institutions, and help working mothers balance their jobs and child care."

The new regulations mean enterprises will no longer be responsible for covering the salaries and all of the childbearing expenses - except medical insurance - of their married female staff.

Even with the new rules, two things remain unchanged. If a baby is born out of wedlock, the mother will not get any benefits, officials said. Benefits will also not be granted if a mother violates the state's family planning policy.

The new rules also state that the stipend will be higher for mothers with at least a year of work experience. The stipend is based on the average monthly salary and bonuses in the calendar year prior to birth. That figure will be multiplied by three to determine a single lump-sum payment.

If there are complications during childbirth or if the mother is 24 or older, she will get an additional payment that's half of the annual average monthly salary.

For example, if a secretary earning 2,000 yuan (US$241) a month with no bonus who has worked at least a year gives birth, she will get a stipend of 6,000 yuan. She will get an additional 1,000 yuan if there are problems during delivery and another 1,000 if she is 24 or older.

So she could get as much as 8,000 yuan, along with having her basic childbirth expenses covered.

(eastday.com October 31, 2001)

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