Govt encourages people to work 4.5 days a week

Updated: 2015-08-11 14:30


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State Council Regulations of Paid Annual Leave of Employees, which took effect in January 2008, stipulated that employees can opt out of their paid leave, and that employers must pay workers three times their daily salary for their unfulfilled vacation.

Chinese authorities have promoted paid leave in recent years as part of the country's plan for economic restructuring, promoting consumption and developing the service industry. They hope the time off will give people a chance to shop and spend on travel and leisure.

However, according to a nationwide survey conducted by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, around 50 percent of Chinese employees choose not to take paid leave due to concerns that taking vacation might give their bosses the impression they are lazy and influence future job promotions.

In other jobs, such as sales, employees forgo paid leave to avoid smaller bonuses as only basic salary is given during leave, a violation of the 2008 regulation, but common in many sectors.

To "guarantee workers' recreational rights," provincial governments across China have adopted regulations allowing employees to "flexibly arrange their vacations," and campaigns have been launched to investigate enforcement of the regulations.

Some local measures have been excessive by "forcing" employees to take paid leave, while others have run afoul of the law by abolishing the additional pay owed to those who give up their vacations.

Paid leave has also been linked to the annual work assessment of employees and departments.

Although government employers are demonstrating their resolve to implement the law through forced paid leave, it is unrealistic to impose these policies uniformly and without flexibility in all workplaces.

Despite the good intentions of advocating rest, local regulations that put those who forgo paid leave at a disadvantage for model worker titles, promotions, and other perks are inappropriate.

Enforcing paid leave in a one-size-fits-all manner should be discouraged, as China has not reached universal coverage for paid leave benefits.

Forced labor, forced extension of work hours, withholding back pay and refusal to buy insurance for workers are lasting problems in some parts of China and violations of basic labor rights.

For these workers, paid leave is a luxury. They should not be further disadvantaged by local measures that penalize them for not taking leave.

More caution should be adopted to introduce paid leave, instead of a drastic, sweeping imposition.

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