Regulations Tighten up on Social Insurance Filing Services Provided by HR Agencies [ENG/CHI]
By Jeanette Yu (虞英倩), Partner, Head of Employment & Pension Practice Area Group, CMS, China, &                   Ada Hua (華心雨), Associate, CMS, China


  • Regulations restricting third-party HR agencies from filing employees’ social insurance payments on behalf of companies could have legal implications for employers. 

  • To avoid non-compliance and the adverse consequences, employers need to find alternative ways of paying employees’ social insurance contributions. 

For many years it has been a common practice for companies to pay employees’ social insurance contributions through third-party Human Resources (HR) agencies at locations where their Hukou (a system of household registration used in Mainland China) is registered or where they actually work, instead of the location where the company employing them is registered. As a result of stepped-up supervision by local governments, many HR agencies are no longer able to provide social insurance filing services. 

According to the PRC Social Insurance Law, a company can only provide social insurance for its employees at its registered business locations. With the trend that first began in July 2020 in Beijing, but now expanded to other provinces and cities across Mainland China, some local governments have expressly prohibited HR agencies from providing social insurance for employees that do not have a recognised employment relationship with them.  Companies that have employees in Guangdong, for example, but do not have a registered subsidiary or branch there and have indirectly been contributing employees’ social insurance payments through a staffing or HR agency need to be aware of the campaign to crack down on non-compliant social insurance practices. For many companies, this has created the challenge of how to make proper arrangements for the payment of employees’ social insurance at locations where the company does not have any registered business address.


Currently in Mainland China, the social insurance system is managed on a location basis. For example, although this is set to change, an employee paying social insurance in Beijing, but working in Shanghai cannot directly pay medical fees for outpatient services or emergency treatment with his/her medical insurance account in hospitals in Shanghai. Also, the pension benefits an employee receives after retirement differ considerably from one location to another. In addition, if an employee is not provided with social insurance at the location where he/she actually works, the employee is not entitled to various local benefits such as the eligibility for transferring his/her Hukou to the work location, buying residential premises or cars, taking housing fund loans, or even school enrolment of their children at this particular location.

A common practice used by companies that lack a business registration at the work location or Hukou location of an employee, is to provide social insurance through HR agencies in several ways.  For example, a company signs an employment contract with an employee, but the social insurance contributions are paid by an HR agency registered at the location requested by the employee.  In effect, the HR agency which pays the social insurance for these employees at these locations often claims the employees are employed by the agency. Previously, administrative supervision of such practices was rather unclear or lax. In fact, payment of social insurance by an HR agency provided convenience and benefits to both employers and employees. For employers, it meant they could hire staff at any location nationwide without the need to set up registered branches or business units in those places. For employees, the arrangement allowed them to enjoy social insurance benefits at the location where they actually worked. It also meant that employees intending to retire at their Hukou location could enjoy pension benefits when reaching the statutory retirement age, regardless of where they had previously worked. 

Stepped-up Supervision

In recent years, the number of criminal cases involving social insurance benefit fraud have increased. On 18 March 2022, the Measures for Administrative Supervision of Social Insurance Funds issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security of the PRC took effect. According to Article 32 of the new regulations, the practice of providing social insurance by an HR agency and consequently enjoying the social insurance benefits by an employee by way of artificially creating an employment relationship can be regarded as misconduct of making fraudulent claims for social insurance benefits through cheating or fake documentation. In such a case, according to Article 88 of the PRC Social Security Law, the employee can be required to return the social insurance benefits obtained and the HR agency shall be liable to a penalty amounting to between 2 and 5 times the amount of the reclaimed social insurance benefits in question.

It is also noteworthy that from 2020, the tax authorities became the competent authorities in charge of levying social insurance contributions at the local level. In their data base, the tax authorities can easily identify whether an employer pays salaries to its employees, withholds individual income tax (IIT) and provides social insurance contributions for its employees. If an HR agency is discovered to have only made social insurance payments without paying any salary or withholding IIT, it may be subject to legal risks.

The payment of employees’ social insurance contributions through a third-party arrangement may also entail legal risks to employers. For instance, if the tax authorities discover a company only pays salaries and withholds IIT without providing employees with social insurance, according to the PRC Social Security Law, the company can be subject to administrative liabilities for failure to make registration and not fully paying social insurance for its employees. Furthermore, if an employee’s social insurance benefits are reclaimed by the competent authorities because the contributions were made by an HR agency unlawfully, the employee is entitled to ask his/her employer to pay compensation due to the failure to provide legally compliant social insurance benefits.

Unified national social insurance service system

With the development of a unified national social insurance service system and the overall planning of social insurance at the national level, in the future, employees would be able to transfer their social insurance relationships more easily across different locations. This means that employees will become able to enjoy social insurance benefits at any location even if their social insurance contributions are made elsewhere. Starting from 1 January 2023, through the online National Medical Service Platform, an employee will be able to directly pay medical fees incurred for hospitalisation, outpatient services, chronic and special major diseases, and emergency treatment at designated hospitals with his/her medical insurance account in a location outside the place where his/her social insurance is provided. This means that employees would be less likely to be affected if they work or have their Hukou registered at locations different from where their social insurance is paid. Also, from the beginning of 2022,  the contribution policies and pension benefit adjustment policies have been gradually unified national-wide, thus narrowing the gaps of pension benefits across cities and provinces.

With this in mind, companies may consider adopting different solutions in handling employees’ social insurance payments. Employers could, for example, consider if it is still necessary to provide social insurance at locations requested by employees. Employers could also consider restructuring their business operations by registering branch offices or new business units at the location where employees’ social insurance contributions need to be made. To ensure compliance with social insurance payment requirements, employers could also consider changing the way they engage employees from direct hiring to secondment or outsourcing. Additionally, employers could share information with their employees about the changes being made to the national social insurance service system, so that they can better understand the mechanisms for having their social insurance paid at the location where their employer is registered instead of the location where they work or have their Hukou registered.


撰文:虞英倩,  CMS中國,合夥人,勞動法和養老金專業領域負責人;及

華心雨,CMS 中國,顧問

  • 新規例限制第三方人力資源機構為企業代繳員工社會保險費,可能會給僱主帶來影響。

  • 為免違規和承擔法律後果,僱主應另尋他法為員工繳付社會保險費。


根據《中華人民共和國社會保險法》,企業只能在其公司註冊地為員工提供社保。 2020 年 7 月開始,北京市明確禁止人力資源機構為沒有真正僱傭關係的員工提供社保,之後內地其他省市的地方政府相繼跟隨。舉例說,企業在廣東聘有員工,卻沒有在當地註冊分支機構或子公司,如果企業過去只是透過人力資源機構代為繳付員工社保費的,他們須知道政府正以行動取締這種違規「代繳」的做法。對許多企業來說,如何在沒有公司註冊的地區合規合法地為員工繳付社保費,將是一大挑戰。





近年,涉及社保福利詐騙的刑事案件有所增加。 2022 年 3 月 18 日,人力資源和社會保障部發布的《社會保險基金行政監督辦法》正式生效。新規例第三十二條訂明,人力資源機構透過虛假僱傭關係為員工提供社保而令該員工享有相關福利,均屬以欺詐或偽造虛假文件瞞取社保福利的不當行為。根據《中華人民共和國社會保險法》第 88 條,有關部門可就上述行為要求員工退還已獲取的社保福利,而人力資源機構亦需繳付相等於二至五倍的問題社保福利金額作為罰款。






Regulations Tighten up on Social Insurance Filing Services Provided by HR Agencies [ENG/CHI]
PR 5 December, 2022