Extra Leave for Late Marriage to End Across China
Most of China’s provinces and municipalities are planning to officially abolish late marriage leave, the rule that allowed some newlyweds to take extended holidays after their big day. [chinanews.com]

Most of China’s provinces and municipalities are planning to officially abolish late marriage leave, the rule that allowed some newlyweds to take extended holidays. The latest move based on the newly-passed amendment to the Population and Family Planning Law has sparked much debate among experts and citizens including many young net users.

According to the new amendment to the Law which has been approved by the standing committee of the National People’s Congress, China’s top legislative body last December, citizens who marry and bear children at a later age can only get three days of marriage leave, instead of the previous 10 days or more, bringing the regulations into line with the rest of the population.

Quick Response from Local Officials

For now, Guangdong and Hubei provinces are among the quick responders to apply the new policy change. They have officially released the regulations on scrapping extra marriage leave, only giving three days off for newlyweds.

Beijing and Shandong Province issued the draft of the new family planning measures to solicit public opinions in early January, in which the extended leave for late marriage had been deleted.

Officials from the Shanghai Health and Family Planning Commission also confirmed it would also be removing such a clause in the new local regulations.

The legal age for marriage in China is 22 for men and 20 for women. Now, all couples get three days’ leave after tying the knot, whereas before, those who were 25 or 23 were eligible for extra time off. The additional leave was aimed at encouraging people to marry and raise children later in life according to previous family planning policy.

However, as China adopts fundamental changes to the policy and is nowadays encouraging couples to have two children, the State no longer wants to discourage people from marrying earlier.

Therefore, in the next step towards full adoption, China’s provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities have begun to amend and publish their own local population and family planning regulations based on the new Law.

For now, though, if the new regional regulations have not yet been released officially, couples who marry at an older age can still enjoy a holiday ranging from 10-23 days. For instance, those marrying at a later age in northwest China’s Gansu Province can even still get 30 days off and those in north China’s Shanxi Province have a similarly extended arrangement.

To catch the “last train” of late marriage leave, therefore, many young couples in China swarmed into registration offices to apply for their marriage certificates before the New Year.

Change Sparks Argument

The move of abolishing the extra leave has sparked argument among some netizens from various regions.

A commenter nicknamed Doudou complained, “As a woman born in the 80s, I encountered the one-child policy, college entrance exam reforms, overall two-child policy, abolishment of late marriage leave, postponed retirement, and what’s worse, as a college graduate majoring in medicine, I also encountered the medical treatment reforms. In the future, I have to support two children and four seniors.”

One netizen said that as the late marriage leave has been abolished, if there is no local amendment to the policy, the three-day holiday is only enough to hold a wedding ceremony, and thus they have to prepare in their spare time or ask their parents, relatives or friends for help, not to mention making time for the honeymoon.

On the other hand, some netizens and experts explained their agreement about the new policy, saying that it caters for the developmental direction of the country and is also beneficial for keeping China’s population stable and relieving the trend for an ageing demographic.

Experts said as the amendment to the family planning regulations in other provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities are still in process, the changes for late marriage leave can only be clear after the local standing committee review meetings. But based on the new regulations released in regions like Guangdong and Hubei provinces, abolishing the extra holiday has gone mainstream across the country.

Experts have suggested that it could be better to adopt a gradual way to abolish the extra leave, so that the public can have a period of time to get used to the changes.

(Source: ce.cn/Translated and edited by Women of China)