Chinese govt wants shorter work week

BEIJING • The Chinese government has called on employers to let their staff work 41/2 days a week in a bid to bolster tourism amid the flagging economy.

In summer, employers could arrange for flexible working schedules, such as letting weekends begin at Friday noon, according to a document published on Tuesday by the General Office of the State Council.

News of the shorter work week created a buzz in cyberspace. It became a hot topic on Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like social networking site in China, and has been read by more than 25 million people.

"Please carry it out as soon as possible, otherwise the summer will end soon," one netizen pleaded. But some other netizens pointed out potential problems, including fee hikes at scenic locations.

The authorities have also 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 activities.

SCEPTICAL

China, as a traditional industrial and manufacturing powerhouse, is unlikely to institutionalise this concept in the near future.

PROF LIN JIANG, head of the Public Finance and Taxation Department at Lingnan College in Sun Yat-sen University

However, according to a nationwide survey conducted by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, around 50 per cent of employees choose not to take paid leave because they fear it might give their bosses the impression that they are lazy and affect their chances of getting a promotion.

Prof Lin Jiang, head of the Public Finance and Taxation Department at Lingnan College in Sun Yat-sen University, doubts the shorter work week will take off.

"As far as I know, developed countries like the United States and the Hong Kong region do not practise a 41/2-day work week," he told Chinese paper Information Times.

"China, as a traditional industrial and manufacturing powerhouse, is unlikely to institutionalise this concept in the near future."

CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 13, 2015, with the headline 'Chinese govt wants shorter work week'. Print Edition | Subscribe