In the early decades of the People's Republic of China founded in 1949, due to the underdeveloped transportation and communication system, it was hard for people living and working far away from their hometown to visit their families or stay in touch regularly. So to enable people to get together with their near and dear ones at least once a year, the family leave was introduced.
It was decided that every year, a married couple could have family leave for 30 days to see each other if they lived in different places; if they lived together, they could have 20 days to visit their parents every four years. Single people could enjoy 20 days' leave annually to visit their parents. A regulation was issued in 1958 and the system was improved through more regulations in the early 1980s.
However, nowadays, thanks to the rapid development of transport and communications means, it's much easier for people to either contact their dear ones frequently or visit them, no matter how far away they are. Besides, as the family leave scheme covers only those who work in government departments and state-owned enterprises, it is increasingly being regarded as an outdated practice and a privilege enjoyed by a small group of people.
There are suggestions that the system should be canceled to keep up with the times. While this is backed by those who don't have family leave, it is strongly opposed by those who do. Also, some say that the issue is not whether family leave should be canceled; instead China's current holiday and leave system should be reformed in entirety.
Family leave for all
Gao Lu (Qianjiang Evening News): Those who have never enjoyed family leave won't understand the significance of this holiday, while those who do feel it is essential. Some say family leave should be given only to some special groups. It sounds reasonable but is difficult to practice. Who or which sectors should continue to enjoy it?
Some suggest that the Spring Festival holiday should be adjusted to replace family leave. To extend the seven-day holiday is a good idea, but if an extended holiday comes at the cost of family leave, people will have only one chance to go home in a year, instead of twice.
More importantly, during the Spring Festival holiday, there is an overwhelming demand for tickets for all kinds of transport. But family leave can be taken around the year, which means this headache can be avoided.
China has a vast territory. Many parents and children as well as spouses live far away from one another. Therefore, instead of scrapping family leave, all employers should allow their employees family leave.
Family leave shows respect for the individual and is a humane aspect of our society. That's why it stands out among various kinds of holidays and leave. This leave should never be canceled so readily.
Zuo Congnian (People's Daily): Family leave should not be canceled. This is a prime legitimate right of working people. Besides, it helps to make family life more harmonious. The practice of family leave brings benefits to workplaces too as after a relaxing vacation, employees are likely to work better. This is actually a win-win holiday design.
The argument that family leave exists only in name does not fit the facts. In some departments it may be difficult to implement but despite all kinds of difficulties, a huge number of offices are actually practicing it. To cancel family leave is like trampling on workers' right. It's ridiculous to scrap it just because it is not as well implemented nowadays as it used to be earlier.
It's better to improve the system instead of invalidating it.
Xu Hongchang (baijiahao.baidu.com): Family leave, though a humane system, is not enjoyed by the masses. It is deteriorating into a dormant welfare item not because it's outdated or unnecessary but mostly because it has not been well enforced for too long.
Some people have never enjoyed family leave, which implies that it is really difficult to push forward this welfare measure in some sectors; on the other hand, there is vociferous opposition to canceling family leave, which means at least some people feel it's very useful.
There is room for improvement in terms of the duration and details of family leave, but any idea to cancel it is going too far.
A privilege for a few
Ma Qing (www.hebei.com.cn): Nowadays, family leave is given only to those who work in government departments, state-owned enterprises or similar organizations. The family leave scheme is actually a product of the planned economy system, as during the 1950s and 1980s, the vast majority of the population worked in these organizations.
However, when the planned economy has mostly transitioned to the market economy, where 80 percent or more jobs are provided by private enterprises, family leave has gradually become a privilege for a fraction of the population. In this sense, the dwindling family leave is an irreversible trend.
I think most people don't care whether family leave is retained or canceled as they never have the chance to enjoy this privilege. The right to rest and enjoy holidays is meant for every member of society. So how to make various holidays bring tangible benefits to the vast majority is the real urgent issue.
Review all holidays
Zheng Yufei (Beijing Daily): Nowadays, thanks to extended weekends, the two-day weekend and various short holidays, the Chinese have begun to enjoy more and longer holidays. Visiting one's far-away family is no longer the problem it used to be. This is the backdrop against which some have suggested that the leave be canceled.
However, the implementation of various holidays differs in different industries and sectors. A lot of people in the service sector still get only one day off in a week.
Meanwhile, people's demand for specific holiday schemes is rising. For example, calls for parental leave. All these new requirements reflect the deficiencies in the current holiday arrangement, including family leave.
It's acceptable to cancel some outdated holidays. It's more important to optimize the holiday system and to make holidays bring tangible benefits than annul family leave.
Ensuring that employers obey state laws and regulations on holidays is important. But at the same time, the difficulties these organizations face in implementing holiday schemes should also be taken into account. In this regard, it's suggested that tax breaks and awards be given to companies implementing family leave and other holidays. In some companies, the bosses should take the lead in taking the holiday, which would be helpful.
We do not lack holidays in China but we do lack an effective way to organize them. Holidays mean more than a period of rest, they are meant to improve staff efficiency. So the current debate on family leave should be used as an opportunity to review and reform the holiday scheme so that holidays work.
Copyedited by Sudeshna Sarkar