Paid leave will help peo­ple visit par­ents

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE -

Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent me­dia sur­vey, 22 per­cent of the re­spon­dents vis­ited their par­ents ev­ery six months, 28 per­cent once a year and 8 per­cent had not done so for many years. The re­spon­dents were peo­ple work­ing or liv­ing away from their home­towns.

Now, Bei­jing mu­nic­i­pal au­thor­i­ties plan to grant “fil­ial leave” to em­ploy­ees to en­cour­age them to visit their par­ents more fre­quently. The plan is part of the draft of the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20).

The mu­nic­i­pal au­thor­i­ties should be lauded for their ef­fort, but their move may not be enough to prompt peo­ple to visit their par­ents more of­ten. The fact is, em­ploy­ees get pub­lic hol­i­days plus two-day week­ends and, ac­cord­ing to a 2008 reg­u­la­tion, they have the right to get paid leave of be­tween five and 20 days. The prob­lem is that not many can get paid leave. Ac­cord­ing to aMin­istry ofHu­man Re­sources and So­cial Se­cu­rity sur­vey con­ducted in 60 cities in 2015, only about half of the re­spon­dents, most of them gov­ern­ment or State-owned en­ter­prise em­ploy­ees, en­joyed paid leave. Pri­vate en­ter­prise em­ploy­ees were worse off.

Be­sides, for some em­ploy­ees, even week­ends are a lux­ury. Ac­cord­ing to a 2013 sur­vey con­ducted by Guangzhoubased Sun Yat-senUniver­sity, 38 per­cent of the re­spon­dents worked ex­tra hours, and 45 per­cent of those didn’t get any ex­tra pay­ment. Worse, some re­cent me­dia re­ports say, 58.com, a ma­jor do­mes­tic web­site, asked its em­ploy­ees to work six days a week with­out ad­di­tional pay­ment.

Of course, em­ploy­ees can sue their em­ploy­ers for vi­o­lat­ing la­bor rights, but they could lose their jobs for that. Worse, the lawis si­lent on puni­tive ac­tion against em­ploy­ers vi­o­lat­ing work­ers’ right to take paid leave.

The idea of “fil­ial leave” dates back to 1981, when the State Coun­cil, China’s Cab­i­net, an­nounced em­ploy­ees should get 20 days’ leave a year so that they can visit their par­ents liv­ing in other cities. The “par­ent-visit leave” is le­gal but ex­ists only on pa­per. If the pro­posed “fil­ial leave” reg­u­la­tion, too, turns out to be good only on pa­per, it will not help in­crease peo­ple’s trust in reg­u­la­tions.

This is not to sug­gest the au­thor­i­ties should not en­act reg­u­la­tions on paid leave. But they should also, for ex­am­ple, im­ple­ment a lawto pe­nal­ize em­ploy­ers that don’t grant their em­ploy­ees paid leave.

Li Shi, of Bei­jingNor­malUniver­sity, says the so­cial se­cu­rity fund col­lected by the State in­creased by 27 per­cent a year from 2006 to 2010, while work­ers’ wages rose by 16 per­cent a year. In other words, en­ter­prises con­trib­uted more to so­cial se­cu­rity fund per em­ployee, but the ma­jor­ity of the fund went to the State.

So au­thor­i­ties could con­sider the pos­si­bil­ity of re­duc­ing the so­cial se­cu­rity cost for em­ploy­ers to prompt them to grant em­ploy­ees their due paid leave. Only af­ter such mea­sures are taken can em­ploy­ees’ right be fully pro­tected.

The au­thor is a writer with China Daily. zhangzhoux­i­ang@chi­nadaily.

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