New schedule aims to increase efficiency and boost leisure time Guangdong party and government workers will be able to sleep in an extra half hour but will have to cut their lunch break, under changes to working hours from July 1. In a notice in Guangdong newspapers yesterday, the authorities said work would begin a half-hour later, at 8.30am, with the time made up by shortening the lunch break by 30 minutes to two hours, from noon to 2pm. The workday will still end at 5.30pm, a seven-hour shift. Liao Ru, a member of the Guangdong People's Congress and one of the main proponents of the change, said the move would increase efficiency and give staff more time for personal matters. 'At many government counters, the period from 8am to 9am was wasted because many private companies open at 9am; and many people are waiting after their lunch hours for the government counters to open,' she said. 'To many civil servants it is very hard to kill time over the long lunch gap' because they are still supposed to be with members of their work units. After she submitted a proposal to the congress last year, the provincial government sought opinions from 21 city governments and 87 departments and units in the province, and set up a team to study the proposal. Ms Liao said the extra half-hour in the morning would give people more personal time and also help alleviate traffic congestion. The change will not include Shenzhen, or higher education and research units under the government, but they can adopt it if they wish, according to the Information Times. The moves have drawn a mixed response. Shi Kun, a member of the Guangzhou People's Congress, welcomed the change. He said a shorter lunch break meant more people would go out for lunch instead of cooking at home, giving restaurants a boost in business, according to the Information Times. Mr Shi suggested that it would also help other businesses in the service industry, as the later start in the morning would allow people to stay up late and enjoy more entertainment in the evening. The later start would also allow more people to buy houses in the suburbs, thereby improving their living conditions, he claimed. But Guo Weiqing , from Sun Yat-sen University's School of Political Science and Public Administration, said he would prefer a permanent shift to a nine-to-five schedule. 'From the perspective of work efficiency, a nine-to-five working day is better, and closer to international practice,' he said. 'Either you make a once-and-for-all change to enjoy the benefits of work efficiency or you don't change at all. 'People who prefer a nap in the afternoon will not like a shortened lunch break, while people who prefer more personal time think the move is not drastic enough.'