This article contrasts the flexibility of Chinese and Indian urban hospitals and the security of nurses. The study draws on a survey of 55 urban hospitals, and finds that national context generates different flexibility–security outcomes even when workers with similar skills are considered. Our findings support claims that China is constructing a flexibility–security regime that aims to promote both security and flexibility, and that India remains attached to employer-based social protection, but challenges the claim that economic growth is higher in China because India's employers have relatively less capacity to utilize labour-time as they wish.