Business / Economy

Maternity leave upgrades urged to help working mothers

By Zhuo Wenting (China Daily) Updated: 2016-03-08 10:56

Maternity leave upgrades urged to help working mothers

Female college students participate in a job fair held particularly for them in Nanjing, capital of East China's Jiangsu province, March 5, 2016. [Photo/Xinhua]

Shanghai residents are calling for more sophisticated maternity insurance for female workers to improve their competitiveness in the job market, according to the findings of a new survey.

Nearly 57 percent of respondents to the survey, published by the Shanghai Municipal Statistics Bureau ahead of International Women's Day, which falls on Tuesday, said they feel women encounter more barriers when looking for work and in career development, mainly because of issues around maternity leave and the fact that women face more distractions in the workplace due to family commitments and child care.

Nearly 30 percent of respondents believed the best solution lay in a thorough maternity insurance system capable of easing the burden on employers.

And some 22 percent said they would like to see quotas that stipulate the proportion of female workers in some industries through legislation.

The survey polled more than 1,000 Shanghai residents above the age of 18.

Feng Lijuan, a human resources expert at Chinese job finding website, said women's outstanding performance in the workplace had ensured employers were less inclined to discriminate against them when looking for new workers. Some companies were targeting women because many request less pay than similarly qualified men.

"However, the universal second-child policy has made some employers less willing to hire women, especially those who have got married but haven't started their families," Feng said.

"Women frequently ask for leave around the time of giving birth and force employers, who are often cost-sensitive, to hire replacements."

Another survey done by on Monday showed 55 percent of those polled reported an increase in female colleagues who were having a second child.

More than 2,600 people participated in the poll and women made up 86 percent of respondents.

Yang Xiong, director of the Institute of Sociology under the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, suggested that the government levy less tax on businesses that employ an appropriate proportion of women, to offset the higher costs they may face.

"Another way would be for the human resources authority to calculate the proportion of women of childbearing age at an enterprise and design a formula to compensate the enterprise," Yang said.

A longer period of paid paternal leave, which is also a cost borne by the employer, has been applauded by social experts and the public as an important step in ensuring equal treatment at work.

New fathers in Shanghai have, since the beginning of March, been entitled to 10 days child care leave, an increase on the previous three days.

"It is an encouragement to fathers to be more engaged in bringing up children from the very beginning. More participation from fathers in bringing up their children and in carrying out family chores will give mothers more time and energy for their careers," said Yu Yalin, a mother of two girls from Shanghai.

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