China Releases Three Proposals for 2014 National Holiday Schedule

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Nov. 29 – China’s Office of National Holidays (ONH) is allowing the public to choose between three different proposals for the 2014 national holiday schedule. In an attempt to make the holiday schedule more predictable, the public is currently being asked to indicate their preferred proposal in an online poll featured on a number of leading Chinese websites including Sina, Tencent and Sohu.

As of Thursday, more than 1 million people have participated in the poll that has been available online since Wednesday November 27.

In a similar survey conducted in October, only 12 percent of roughly 2 million participants indicated that they were satisfied with the current national holiday arrangement, and a further 50 percent felt that mandatory long-term holidays that sacrificed regular weekends were unnecessary.

In recent years, the ONH has been criticized for its late release of the holiday schedule, and weekend-working day switches that sometimes result in employees being required to work seven or eight days straight in order to have three or seven consecutive days off. In January 2013, for example, the ONH scheduled the New Year’s holiday from January 1-3, a Tuesday through Thursday, resulting in the public being expected to work for eight consecutive days from January 4-11.

The ONH’s decision to conduct an online poll is both a response to this criticism, and an attempt to make the official holiday schedule more predictable.

The tendency for the ONH to not release the official holiday schedule until late December oftentimes places employers and employees under a great deal of pressure to predict when longer holiday breaks will be, and plan working days accordingly. Because one or three-day holidays are typically combined with their closest weekends to create longer vacations, planning working days around the holidays can be especially difficult.

The three proposed options can be found below:

2014 Chinese holiday schedule

It appears, however, that many in China are disappointed by all three “reformatory holiday schedules.” Rather than increase the total number of national holidays as expected, the proposals all feature the traditional 11 days off and retain many of the unpopular weekend-working day switches.

Early results indicate that more than 50 percent of participants favor ‘Option C,’ while ‘Option B’ is the least popular. Option C retains the traditional long holidays for Chinese New Year and National day while avoiding some weekend-working day switches.

Because some Chinese employers fail to respect labor laws requiring workers to be granted annual leave, long national holidays are sometimes the only opportunity employees have to take a real vacation. Consequently, China’s retail and tourism industries have come to rely upon the long national holidays for growth. Shen Danyang, Spokesman for China’s Ministry of Commerce, recently highlighted the boost ‘golden week’ gives China’s economy each year by increasing national consumption.

While the public contemplates how to take holidays in a more reasonable way, changing the holiday schedule will inevitably create issues for manufacturing and trade companies trying to predict working days and salary requirements. Under China’s current labor law, employees must be paid triple for time worked during national holidays.

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