Recommendations for more public holidays proposed at China’s Two Sessions government meeting have been met with enthusiasm by scholars. Extending the existing Chinese public holidays would help boost domestic economic consumption and provide more leisure time for Chinese workers who have long suffered under a widespread culture of excessive overtime, experts say.
Source: Macau Photo Agency
The suggestions, raised at the annual parliamentary meeting in Beijing this week, reflect an increased emphasis on basic workers’ rights, according to state media the Global Times. Other popular proposals include ensuring paid paternity leave for both partners, including a minimum of 20 days for fathers, and increased paid leave for only children who have to care for elderly parents. Such moves would help promote gender equality and boost fertility, according to Zhang Lining of Tsinghua University’s Center for International Economic Research.
There are currently 11 statutory public holidays in China, but many workers complain that transportation and attractions are heavily oversubscribed during these times, making their annual breaks less enjoyable. Calls for more flexibility as to when workers can take annual leave have been rising in prominence.
Longer weekends have also been a theme of late, with a 4.5-day work week proposed by a National People’s Congress deputy last month. The proposal was, however, dismissed as unrealistic by the Ministry of Human Resources, which said the move would put more pressure on businesses, increase labor costs and affect China’s economic development.
Wu Bihu of Peking University said the extension of public holidays will be an inevitable future trend as China’s social and economic progress continues. Li Chang'an, a professor at the University of International Business and Economics, however, said emphasis should be placed on reducing the notoriously long working hours of Chinese employees rather than extending holidays.
According to official figures from November 2020, most employees in China work close to 47 hours per week, making them among the longest working hours in the world. Until 1995, Chinese workers only had one day off a week, and until 2008, the annual Spring Festival holiday was only three days long.
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Keywords: Increase public holidays China
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