Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Paid vacations can fix 'golden mess'

By Cai Jiming (China Daily) Updated: 2014-09-30 07:36

The Golden Week of the National Day holiday may witness another "golden mess" with crowded trains and scenic spots. Before the holiday, the national holiday office, which was in charge of deciding the dates of the national holidays, was upgraded to an intra-ministry organization to promote the sound development of tourism.

The change was widely interpreted as signaling that the government aims to introduce paid leave. Only by implementing paid leave can the "golden messes" of the Spring Festival and National Day holidays be effectively eased.

Employees' right to enjoy paid vacation was written into law as early as in 1995. However, it was not until last year that the government showed its determination to properly carry out the practice through the announcement made by the State Council that a paid vacation system has to be implemented throughout the country by 2020. A lot of obstacles lie ahead of the full implementation of the practice.

On the part of employees, they face pressure from the employers if they ask for paid vacation. In a survey in 2008, 64 percent of the respondents said that they didn't take paid leave because they were worried that their bosses may treat them unfavorably or even fire them.

A balance between work and leisure has yet to prevail in China. Many people work extremely hard at the expense of their health and their responsibilities to their families. They would rather have cash bonuses by working during the holidays rather than taking a vacation. Enterprises, meanwhile, don't want to burden themselves with paying employees on vacation. However, they should realize that prolonged work will damage their employees' health and ultimately harm their work efficiency.

The lack of supervision and punishment is another obstacle to the paid vacation system. Though the right to paid vacation has been written into law, there are few specific guidelines for its implementation. Enterprises that have deprived their employees of the right face no punishment, which has further encouraged them to keep breaking the law.

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