High pay for China's confinement nannies

Confinement nannies displaying their skills at the annual home economics expo held in Shanghai last month.
Confinement nannies displaying their skills at the annual home economics expo held in Shanghai last month.PHOTO: CHINA FOTO PRESS

SHANGHAI • More than 10 months after the easing of the country's one-child policy, China is seeing an increase in demand for yuesao, or confinement nannies.

Between the start of the year, when China relaxed its family planning policy, and end-June, 8.31 million births were registered nationwide. This is a 6.9 per cent increase from the same period last year, according to People's Daily Online.

Of those babies, 44.6 per cent were the second child, a 6.7 per cent increase from the year before. In Shanghai alone, the number of births between January and October increased 12 per cent year-on- year.

The baby boom, coupled with rising labour costs over the years, has led to higher pay cheques for post-partum nannies, particularly in the top-tier Chinese cities such as Beijing and Shanghai.

Some netizens claim that hiring a nanny could cost upwards of 30,000 yuan (S$6,200) per month - more than double the rate a decade ago. Service providers in Shanghai contacted by China Daily say the pay varies from 10,000 yuan to 20,000 yuan per month.

This has made nannies a much sought-after occupation as it pays even better than some mid-level management positions at multinational firms in China.

Ms Du Yonghong, a supervisor at DOMO, which provides domestic workers, said demand for these helpers had increased since the relaxation of the family planning policy, but insisted that her company had not raised prices for Chinese New Year.

It could cost up to 20,000 yuan per month to hire a nanny during this period. The Year of the Rooster starts on Jan 28 next year.

Ms Su says the pay of nannies provided by her agency ranges from 11,000 yuan to 13,800 yuan, depending on the nanny's age, education, skill, reputation and birthplace.

"Shanghai mothers, in general, prefer nannies from Shanghai or the neighbouring provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang, because they share the same living habits, customs, tastes and dialects," Ms Du said.

Another Internet-based provider of domestic help services, youfumama.com, quoted fees of 9,800 yuan to 15,800 yuan per month.

It said those in the higher price bracket are either more experienced, better communicators or are certified in areas such as nutrition.

The company said it had not raised prices for Chinese New Year, but pointed out that workers have to be paid double during the period in accordance with national regulations.

Growing demand for trained yuesao has spawned a lucrative certification industry. A nanny certified with a "gold medal" can command a monthly salary of between 14,000 yuan and 15,000 yuan.

Although most nannies are migrant workers from the countryside, more graduates have joined the ranks, attracted by the high pay.

CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 17, 2016, with the headline 'High pay for China's confinement nannies'. Print Edition | Subscribe