Getting to work 30 minutes later?
( 2003-12-09 11:10) (Xinhua)
It sure would make life easier for many Chinese who have to get up early, fix breakfast and send their children off to school before they rush to the office on time.
"An extra half hour means a lot to office workers who want to look presentable at work," said Jin Xiaoxin, a young civil servant in Lanzhou, capital of the northwestern Gansu Province. "I'd have enough time to dress up and even treat myself to a homemade breakfast."
Jin, whose home is a one-hour bus ride from the office, had to get up early to be at work before 8""On cold, dark winter mornings, it's hard enough to get up. You simply forget about breakfast and makeup," she said.
Lucky for her, Gansu is one of the provinces to adopt a new timetable on Dec. 1, which has cut office hours for government employees by 30 minutes so that work starts at 8""Life is easier now and each day, I go to work basked in the morning sun," she said.
"A half hour makes so much difference," said Han Renxiao, a civil servant with the city's education committee. "Now I feel more relaxed at home and at work."
In addition to Gansu, the new timetable has taken effect in the northern Hebei Province, southwestern Chongqing municipality and some eastern cities including Nanjing and Hangzhou.
Experts say it may even prelude the dawning of a long-awaited timetable that starts at 9:00 a.m. and ends at 5:00 p.m., one that is already working in several eastern and southwestern cities.
The Chinese have experienced three major changes in their office hours since the People's Republic was founded in 1949.
In 1960, the government ruled that nationwide employees should work no more than eight hours a day, 48 hours a week.
Working hours were cut to 44 hours a week in 1994 and further down to 40 hours in 1995, when the Chinese started to get two days off a week.
In 1999, the Chinese started to enjoy more days off over public holidays including the Chinese Lunar New Year, the May Day Holiday and the National Day Holiday on Oct. 1. The three week-long holidays have improved the quality of the people's life, stimulated domestic demand and bolstered the tourism sector.
All these changes have mirrored the rapid economic growth and higher quality of the Chinese people's lives, said Liu Min, a sociologist with the Gansu Provincial Academy of Social Sciences.
"Shorter office hours is good for people's health and can improve efficiency at work," Liu said. "Besides, when they have more time at home, it's easier for them to balance between work and family."
Liu expects the change will also help solve the bottlenecks on most urban streets. "Traffic will hopefully become easier with people of different occupations traveling at different hours."
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