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Surveys find paid vacation a luxury for people
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The current proposal to overhaul China's national holiday system has put the feasibility of "paid vacation" in the spotlight as surveys show it's a "luxury" for most Chinese.

Only about 15.6 percent of respondents to a survey said they had taken paid vacation this year. Another 13.7 percent were to take vacation soon, while 70.6 percent would take no time off.

A similar result was recorded in a China Youth survey in which 73 percent of the 74,379 respondents said they never enjoyed "any paid vacation".

In an on-line survey of 5,000 professionals by, a human resources website, almost 11 percent said they had "never heard of any paid vacation" in their companies.

Zhang Tingwen, vice-president, said more "horrible" results would occur when workers in small- and medium-sized enterprises, making up more than 90 percent of the country's business sector, were surveyed.

"Many companies in China have no system of paid vacation, or the system is written in employees' manuals but not implemented."

Most companies still held the conventional idea of "work more, produce more", he added.

Zhang said paid vacation was a luxury for Chinese competing in an increasingly fierce job market.

"Paid vacation seems the last thing on workers minds as much more urgent issues need to be addressed, such as working overtime without payment and employers not paying social security funds."

An unnamed human resource manager said the feasibility of paid vacation was closely linked to the country's economic development and per-capita GDP. "When a country is growing, more work means more surplus value," he added.

Earlier this month, the government announced a draft overhaul of its national holiday system. It proposed canceling the May Day "golden week" and adding three traditional festivals as national holidays in its place.

The draft was posted on the Internet for public discussion until Nov. 16. The State Council said it would announce a final overhaul "hopefully before the end of the year".

An official with a special panel commissioned by the State Council for the new holiday arrangement said the proposals, which were aimed at avoiding holiday congestion, would be enacted with more detailed regulations on paid vacation. It would also ensure "people have enough time to travel, yet won't be traveling all at the same time".

A Beijing Federation of Trade Unions spokesman said ensuring paid vacation showed respect for people's right to rest and would be an incentive to work harder.

The country's paid vacation system has been in the making for many years. The State Council, or cabinet, issued a circular on vacation as early as 1991, saying "employees were entitled to vacation of up to two weeks".

"Paid vacation" was later enshrined in the Labor Law in 1995, which, however, only stipulated that "people who have more than a year of working experience are entitled to paid vacation".

But the lack of a regulation detailing specific implementation left it unenforceable. Some employees have no paid vacations and received no compensation.

This has led to growing fear that many people would have greater difficulty taking compulsory paid vacation if the golden weeks were adjusted or reduced.

The draft stipulated legal holidays, such as golden weeks and weekends, would not be included as paid vacation.

Ren Fushan, a legal consultant with the All China Federation of Trade Unions who was a member of the legislative panel of the Labor Law, said trade unions should work out detailed plans to ensure paid vacation was guaranteed and not meddled with by employers.

"I am not in favor of double or triple currency compensation for unrealized vacation. This is not in line with the spirit of the Labor Law and an infringement of employees' basic right," Ren said.

Experts following the proposal predicted the State Council would promulgate a specific paid vacation plan in the first half of 2008.

(Xinhua News Agency November 27, 2007)

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