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Basic vacation in China: Will employees get more than five days vacation in the future?

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Basic vacation in China: Will employees get more than five days vacation in the future?

Employees work at dispatching and monitoring center of Qingdao Teld New Energy Co., Ltd. on March 5, 2024 in Qingdao, Shandong Province of China.

Han Jiajun/VCG via Getty Images

There is heated discussion in Chinese networks about the possibility of increasing the basic vacation to more than five days.

In China it is common practice to only take vacation during the weeks specified by the employer.

When a Hong Kong politician raised the issue of basic leave, the suggestion quickly went viral online.

This is a machine translation of an article from our US colleagues at Business Insider. It was automatically translated and checked by a real editor.

A Hong Kong politician’s recent comments on paid leave have sparked a debate in China about annual leave – or rather, the lack of it.

Kenneth Fok, a Hong Kong-based member of the National People’s Congress, told state media on Monday that the country should gradually increase paid time off for young workers by giving them an additional day of vacation for each year of work experience.

Under current laws, employees have five days of paid vacation annually, increasing to ten days after ten years of work experience and to 15 days after 20 years or more.

Fok’s proposal would allow young workers to increase their annual leave from five to 10 days until they reach the 10-year mark.

“The statutory annual leave of five days cannot ensure that they get enough rest. If this continues, it will affect the intellectual quality, general style and level of society,” Fok said, according to China Youth Daily, a daily newspaper published by the party.

Fok said he would make his proposal at the two sessions, an annual gathering of China’s top decision-making bodies that began Tuesday in Beijing.

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His suggestion woke up on WeiboChina’s version of X, the Hope, that the country could soon align with international standards for paid leave. The International Labor Organization recommends three weeks of paid annual leave.

People in China typically vacation on holidays, with companies often blocking entire weeks around long weekends. However, this practice is often controversial because workers are expected to make up for lost productivity by working overtime or on the weekends before company-wide holidays.

Annual vacation days would allow employees to rest or travel at a time of their choosing.

The hype intensified on Tuesday when the China Youth Daily published a follow-up article to Fok’s interview, saying it was “necessary to protect vacation rights.”

“Many people can only swallow their anger and endure the pressure and injuries at work in silence, even though they know that their rights and interests have been violated,” it said.

The topic went viral, reaching the top of the Weibo search list with 110 million views, Business Insider reports.

“The widespread reaction to this shows how much we have suffered under Schedule 996,” wrote one blogger: “How many office workers haven’t enjoyed a weekend off? How many workers have not yet received their full overtime pay? How many people have already forgotten what annual leave is?”

“I don’t even get a two-day break a week”

The concept of 996, popularized by figures such as Alibaba founder Jack Ma, requires workers to work six days a week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. An overtime culture that was for a time celebrated as the engine of Chinese growth, but was rejected by angry young people.

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The online debate soon turned to the question of whether bosses would even allow young employees to take mandatory vacation days. “We can’t even enforce the labor law, so directly increasing annual leave is just wishful thinking,” wrote one blogger. “If we solve the problem of unpaid overtime and the lack of vacation compensation, then there is hope.”

The Shanghai-based newspaper The Paper led on Tuesday one informal survey by asking her readers if they thought they could take vacation days. As of Wednesday afternoon, less than half of the 7,200 respondents said they took annual leave.

“I don’t even get two days off every week. I would dare to take a day of annual leave,” read one comment.

According to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security the year 2020 In 60 cities, only about 60 percent of Chinese workers take paid vacation. The data is regularly cited by the ministry, which conducted a similar study in 2015.

Fok’s argument for more paid time off comes as China begins to rethink conditions for younger workers as the country’s population ages.

China’s recent decline in birth rates – a reversal of decades of growth boom – has led to fears that the shrinking workforce is unable to support the growing number of retirees.

In another post on Weibo, Fok wrote that young Chinese workers who can go on vacation could also spend more money on travel, which would boost the local economy,

In comparison, the United States is one of the few countries that does not require paid annual leave. However, around 80 percent of private sector workers have access to paid leave, according to government statistics last updated in September 2023.

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Just over half of U.S. workers who have paid leave said they take the full number of days they earn. This is according to a February 2023 Pew Research Center survey of 5,188 American adults.

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