This summer, many provinces have been trying out a new schedule that lets workers in state-owned companies have Friday afternoons off. State media reports that this schedule has generally received positive feedback.
But don’t be fooled — employees still work 40-hour weeks. Companies are merely encouraged to allow workers to take Friday afternoons off if they work longer hours during the rest of the week, or make up for the extra leave by working on national holidays. Policies vary between provinces, but workers in public security, hospitals, schools, and other public service sectors generally don’t have this option. The policy also only applies to 3 to 6 months during the summer.
Despite these limitations, many seemed to like this option, as it makes it easier to travel over the weekend. People’s Daily reports that people can be less rushed when taking weekend trips. One man said that this policy allows him to spend more time with his children every weekend, as he lives away from home.
On Weibo, many who probably work in privately-held companies complained. “My weekends aren’t guaranteed, and I don’t get paid for working extra,” one worker wrote. Others commented sarcastically: “Civil servants should get 8 days off per week, eh?”
The government introduced this idea last year, hoping to boost tourism. A distinct advantage of allowing 2.5-day weekends is that this spreads out the times during which people travel. Instead of crowding popular destinations during national holidays, tourists can take road trips during the weekend. An official from Shaanxi province told People’s Daily that the number of tourists went up by 20% compared to the same time last year.
By Amy Yang