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City lawmakers propose paid leave for 2nd child

Updated: 2014-01-22 08:18
By Zhou Wenting in Shanghai ( China Daily)

Changes to existing law would allow parents to share equally in childcare

Childcare leave for couples who have a second child should be written into law, allowing both fathers and mothers to take time off work to care for their new babies, several Shanghai lawmakers said during a session of their annual gathering on Monday.

They said such a provision would protect women's competitiveness in the job market and encourage couples to have a second child.

Fan Hua, director of family planning and development for the Shanghai Commission of Health and Family Planning, said since qualified couples in the municipality are now allowed to have two children, legal support is needed to help ensure that their growing families succeed.

Fan spoke during the ongoing sessions of local legislators and political advisers.

The previous family planning rule was relaxed in November. Now, a couple may have two children if one partner is an only child.

But the new directive must be supported by law to be effective, said Wu Jian, a deputy to the Shanghai People's Congress, who introduced a proposal to revise the Law on the Protection of Rights and Interests of Women.

"Childcare leave should be included in the law if a couple have a second child," said Wu, who is also a partner in the Duan & Duan Law Firm.

He said that couples cannot always rely on their parents to take care of babies, and nannies are unaffordable for many families. "Moreover, both the husband and wife should be allowed to take leave so that the time women must be out of the workplace - to give birth and then to care for their newborns - will be lessened," he said.

Fu Fangtong, a 28-year-old mother in Shanghai who is hesitant about the prospect of having a second child said the proposal would help women's career development.

"The main obstacle for me in having a second child is that my work will be affected for a minimum of one to two years if I have to take care of the baby. I will lose promotion opportunities," she said.

"I'm afraid the policy of having a second child will also put women at a disadvantage as employers need to give women employees double time to give birth and take care of their infants."

Wu Fengfei, another congress deputy, said it would be unfair if only women were eligible for leave.

"Many foreign countries allow both parents to take care of a baby, and allow leave for both men and women. Fathers should share the responsibility of bringing up children," she said.

Wu said such a regulation would benefit couples where the wife has the bigger income.

In this case, the man could choose to take childcare leave while the woman continues to work, she said.