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Can Paid Leave Entice Workers to Care for Elderly Parents?

A member of China's top political advisory body proposed paid leave for single child workers to care for their parents, others are more skeptical

By Zhang Qingchen Updated Mar.14

Care for the elderly has become a key issue for the generation born in the era of the "one-child policy," and the topic was raised at this year's parliamentary sessions, with a proposal that the country's single children should be able to take paid leave to take care of their parents from Li Haibin, a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). Others argued this proposal would still not be enough to persuade some to find the time to visit their parents.  

Li said this parental-care leave proposal is necessary, to reflect the country's concern and responsibility for the parents who adhered to the “one-child policy” in the 1980s and became one-child parents. Another CPPCC member, Zhang Zhengyu, at Zhejiang Province’s CPPCC session in January, explained that the first generation of kids in the 1980s are facing the pressure of a family structure known as the “inverted pyramid” and need to support a much larger older generation without the help of brothers or sisters, meaning the paid leave scheme should be implemented. 

But commentator Zhang Weibin, writing a critical article on Hubei’s news portal www.cnhubei.com, said some provinces have "legal papers" to encourage kids to go back home frequently, but such regulations cannot be enforced. Some kids are too busy to visit parents, but others worry about their salaries if they take leave, as Zhang added, filial children would always make time anyway, and unfilial kids wouldn’t bother even if paid leave was made available.