On August 20, 2021, the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) adopted a decision to amend the 2015 Population and Family Planning Law. The newly amended law has been published in the NPC’s National Laws and Regulations Database. Effective immediately, the new law allows married couples in the country to have three children, as well as abolishes the expensive fine (known as the “social upbringing fee” or “social maintenance fee”) and other sanctions for couples who exceeded the birth limit under the previous law. The Population and Family Planning Law was last amended in December 2015 to adopt the “two-child” policy.
Under the new article 18 of the law, every married couple in China is now allowed to have up to three children. The rest of the article remains unchanged, stating that more children may be allowed where the requirements specified by laws and regulations are met and that the detailed implementing measures will be formulated by provincial-level people’s congresses.
The amendment deleted articles 41 and 42 of the old law, which had provided for the social maintenance fee, termination of employment for state functionaries, and other penalties employees would face at work for violating the birth restrictions set out under article 18.
The new law includes other measures to boost childbirths, such as encouraging localities to provide parental leave to married couples who “give birth to children in compliance with laws and regulations.” The law has already been providing for extended maternity leave and other social welfare benefits for such couples. (Art. 25.)
The three-child policy was first announced by the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on May 31, 2021. On June 26, 2021, the CCP Central Committee and the State Council jointly issued the Decision on Improving the Birth Policy to Promote Long-Term and Balanced Population Development, setting out detailed measures to implement the new policy.Following the amendment to the Population and Family Planning Law, it is expected that the 2002 Measures for Administration of Collection of Social Maintenance Fees promulgated by the State Council will be abolished and the provincial family planning regulations will be amended to reflect the country’s new family planning policy.