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'Home leave' legislation triggers debate


08:13, July 10, 2012

BEIJING, July 9 (Xinhua) -- A "home leave" provision added to a draft law amendment for improving care for the older generation has provoked debate about the role employers should play in ensuring care for senior citizens.

The provision, added to a draft amendment that was submitted on June 26 to the national legislature for deliberation, states that relatives of elderly people should care for their mental health and visit them frequently.

The provision requires companies to aid in the provision's implementation by ensuring adequate amount of paid vacation time, or "home leave," for their employees so that they may care for their elderly relatives.

About 45 percent of 16,120 respondents surveyed by web portal said they support the provision, as many have doubts about feasibility of implementing it.

"What? Home leave? That is a dream for us common workers," wrote netizen "huanxiangzhigu" on Sina Weibo, a popular Chinese tweeting site.

However, a closer look at related regulations has revealed that most working Chinese are not qualified to enjoy home leave in the first place.

A 30-year-old set of regulations passed by the State Council, or China's cabinet, state that employees whose spouses or parents live far from their places of residence can ask home leave if they have worked for state institutions or government-affiliated enterprises for more than one year.

Married employees may receive as much as one month, while single employees can receive 20 days, according to the regulations.

A Monday report in the Beijing News indicated that home leave for the employees of some government institutions was reduced because of wage deductions.

A woman surnamed Yu who works for a government-affiliated medical college in Beijing was denied home leave after applying to the college's personnel department, the report said.

"The reason given to me was that my residence registration was transferred to Beijing when I came to work here. Therefore, there is no need for me to have a home leave, as Beijing has become my home," Yu was quoted as saying in the report.

A survey conducted by the newspaper indicated that five out of 18 government institutions and state-run enterprises have strictly implemented the home leave policy.

Statistics from the Ministry of Civil Affairs indicate that 185 million people were aged 60 or above as of the end of 2011, representing 13.7 percent of the country's total population.

Wang Ying, an employee of a communications company in Beijing, said that home leave is not enough to ensure adequate care for the elderly population.

"What the government really needs to do is to substantially ensure housing and medical care for the elderly," Wang said.


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