Revamped holidays plan unveiled
Sweeping changes include new worker-friendly paid leave system
Mainland authorities yesterday released a long-anticipated plan proposing sweeping changes to the public holiday calendar and annual leave system after years of deliberation.
The proposal, drafted by the National Development and Reform Commission, suggests shortening the Golden Week in May and introducing public holidays for three traditional festivals.
It is published in full on all official and popular portal websites along with a questionnaire for people to submit their opinions.
The feedback period will end on Friday, after which the results will be reviewed for possible inclusion in the final version of the plan - expected to come into effect from the Lunar New Year in February.
But with the support of a flood of reports from the mainland's propaganda machine, including all central government newspapers and the China Central Television, there is almost no doubt the proposal will have a smooth passage through the State Council.
In the new plan, the number of official holidays is increased from 10 days to 11 days, the May Labour Day holiday is cut from three days to one while the Ching Ming Festival, Dragon Boat Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival will become public holidays as part of attempts to revive traditional culture.
The one-day break already in place for the New Year and the three days set aside for the National Day holidays will remain the same.
In addition, the start of the three-day Lunar New Year holiday will be brought forward by one day to include the Lunar New Year's Eve and the first two days of the Lunar New Year.
The tradition of designating weekends either side of the National Day and Lunar New Year as work days - a system that allows employees to take seven consecutive days off - will continue.
Also open for public consultation is a plan to give workers paid annual leave after working for the same employer for 12 months. Those who have worked for the same employer for fewer than 10 years will get five days paid leave annually, an allowance that will increase to 10 days after 10 years with the same employer and 15 days after 20 years.
The commission said the proposed changes were based on years of surveys and studies carried out by government, business officials and academic researchers, and on feedback from public hearings.
The commission said the inclusion of traditional festivals would 'give greater importance to traditional culture and social customs originating in China's thousands of years of splendid history'.
It said the elimination of the Labour Day Golden Week would reduce pressure on transport, the environment, public security and the tourism industry.
A brief look at online responses to the idea indicated that most people welcomed holidays during traditional festivals, but a significant number were highly opposed to the cancellation of the Labour Day Golden Week.
The present Golden Week public holiday system was instituted in 1999 by the State Council to generate domestic demand and spending.
But doubts have surfaced in recent years about the real economic contribution of the week-long breaks.
Critics have also raised concerns about the environmental impact of hordes of migrating tourists, traffic congestion, security hazards at scenic spots and a shortage of tourism options.
Golden weeks failed to deliver any significant lift in domestic consumption, according to a frequently quoted survey by Tsinghua University economist Cai Jiming , who is also a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and head of the team drafting the new plan.
'Rather, the rise of tourism income during the three Golden Weeks was just a transfer of profits that would have been generated at other times of the year,' Professor Cai said on his blog.