Let everyone feel the joy of paid vacation

Updated: 2014-09-01 08:05

By Fu Jing(China Daily)

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In downtown Brussels, traffic is starting to pick up, and bars and restaurants in the Schumann area where European Union institutions are located are becoming crowded again as EU officials return to their offices after healing their weary minds during paid vacations. Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel, UK Prime Minister David Cameron and other top politicians took time out from their schedules despite their heavy responsibilities, including the fight over seats in the ongoing EU leadership transition, worsening security situation and the bleak economic growth prospects.

Employees in Europe go on holidays because labor laws in almost all EU countries entitle them to 20- to 30-day paid vacations. Besides, employees can buy 10 extra days to extend their vacations, which means they don't get paid for the extra days they are absent from office. The 25-year-old security guard of my office building, which is next to the European Council, told me that he goes on vacation in September to avoid the peak summer season. Though he plans to visit China sometime in the future, he will spend three weeks in Spain this month.

Vacation is an essential part of European life; it rejuvenates the mind and energizes the body. I remember the shock expression on a neighbor's face in 2011 when I told him that my family had not planned any vacation. I could understand why, because one late summer afternoon when we took a tram from downtown Brussels to our apartment on the city's outskirts, we found that ours was the only family in the vehicle even though the EU was still battling the debt crisis.

But things are gradually changing for us Chinese too. For instance, after adjusting to the European way of life, we have started planning breaks during Christmas and/or summer holidays. And as time passes, I meet more friends and colleagues spending their vacations in Belgium or other parts of Europe.

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