Ensure paid leave

Updated: 2013-02-19 08:01

(China Daily)

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Although in nominal existence for years, paid vacations require accelerated and effective efforts of the nation to guarantee the practice.

In its recent national tourism and leisure outline (2013-20), the State Council vowed to push for the basic implementation of a system for paid days off by 2020 as a way of boosting the level of leisure and consumption among its urban and rural residents.

The system, if fully implemented, will effectively ease the traffic pressures caused by concentrated travel booms during the Golden Week holidays, such as the National Day and Spring Festival holidays. It will also facilitate the country's efforts to boost domestic demand and build itself into a consumption-led economy.

The government also vowed in the outline for tourism and leisure to adopt preferential policies to funnel more funds into the construction of tourism facilities, to increase the supply of tourism products and to improve the quality of tourism services.

Such action to ensure employees get paid leave is long overdue and, together with the tourism law that is expected to be passed later this year, will legally guarantee that employees are entitled to paid leave.

However, decision-makers should be aware that any new regulations need workable follow-up measures to prevent them from being bypassed and to hold violators accountable.

China already has regulations on paid vacations, what is lacking is forcible measures to ensure their implementation and an independent monitoring mechanism.

The Labor Law, which took effect on Jan 1, 1995, explicitly stipulates that employees who have worked more than a year are entitled to paid leave every year. The regulation that was promulgated by China's Cabinet and put into force on Jan 1, 2008, also contains similar clauses. However, many employees don't receive the paid days off they are entitled to because they are afraid it will only get them sacked.

A 2011 survey conducted by CNN of 39 countries found that Chinese workers enjoyed the least paid days off, while a report co-published by the National Tourism Administration and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in 2011 showed that 33 percent of workers in Beijing had never enjoyed a paid day off.

It is hoped the central government's renewed efforts will help change such a gloomy scenario.

(China Daily 02/19/2013 page8)