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When a holiday week leaves everyone feeling weak

By Ewa Manthey (Global Times)

09:16, April 26, 2013

This week is a seven-day working week in China. The Labor Day holiday this year falls on a Wednesday. Most work places will give their employees three days off, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. That means that everyone will be required to work over the preceding weekend to make up for the one extra day off resulting in a seven-day working week.

This year employees in China have to work on five Saturdays and seven Sundays. So far they have had one period of working eight days in a row, one six-day working week and still face three seven-day weeks and another six-day week this year.

Before 2007, the Labor Day holiday period lasted one week. But the government decided to reduce it to three days adding three other three-day national holidays - the Qingming Festival in April, the Dragon Boat Festival in June and the Mid-Autumn Festival in September. What do Shanghai's expats think about China's holiday arrangements? Was the previous seven-day week May Day holiday better? Would they rather keep their weekend off and work during the week or have only one extra day off on these holidays? Or is this arrangement more convenient for travel or relaxation?

Andrew Jackson, from the UK, project manager

"Seven-day working weeks are just soul crushing. When I first came to China the idea of working during the weekend to make up for the holidays sounded ridiculous to me. Why would anyone have to make up for the holidays? Why have holidays in the first place if you have to make it up later anyway?

There is no point in all this really. Especially for most office workers - those make-up weekend days are very slow and unproductive days anyway. In my home country this idea would never work and would probably be laughed at. And I know that majority of expats here feel the same way about it. And it's not only expats that feel this way. I have heard a lot of my Chinese friends complaining about the government's arrangement too.

I think the government should just give us those days off and forget about the seven-day working weeks. Everyone in China works so hard and with so few annual paid holidays, they should at least be able to enjoy their weekends. I hope this will be changed soon."

May James, from the US, marketing manager

"I hate the seven-day working weeks. I don't think the government thought this system through. I would rather work during the week and have just one day off in between to take a quick break from work than work seven days in a row.

The three-day holiday is not enough to travel anywhere anyway so I don't really see any point of giving us those days off, to be honest. I have never met anyone who was in favor of this holiday arrangement, expat or Chinese.

I know there is always a lot of uproar whenever the seven-day work week approaches. There was a lot of protest after the last holiday, when everyone had to work eight days in a row. That was just ridiculous. Is it even legal?

I know that a lot of people usually call in sick or take a day off anyway every time we have to make up during the weekends. This holiday arrangement is just illogical."

Chris Anderson, from the US, teacher

"This week is torture. I really wish they just let us off for two days on Monday and Tuesday, or don't give us any holidays at all.

These 'holidays' are not really holidays if you have to make up for them, are they? How could anyone think this is a good idea? People are usually tired after a five-day work week and they need a break to recharge their batteries. When they have to go back again to the office on a Saturday and Sunday, they are not functioning properly and end up doing very little work.

And it is not enough time to travel anywhere with the three days. I don't think many people find this system pleasing.

The worst holiday arrangement was earlier this year, just after the Chinese New Year holiday when we had to work eight days in a row. It was the most ridiculous thing ever.

I couldn't even enjoy my holiday because I was dreading going back to work for an eight-day week so much. I am really hoping, next year, the holiday arrangement won't leave us working eight days in a row."

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