The Last 7-Day Workweek?

It’s that time of year again: vacation absurdity time. Most people in China have to work this coming Saturday and Sunday in order to “make up for” the seven vacation days in a row to come.

Last week was only a four-day workweek (preceded by a three-day weekend), and now this week it’s a seven-day workweek. It’s like jetlag for workweeks; we’re going to need those seven days off to get over the messed-up schedule.

There’s talk of scrapping the October week-long holiday (and its accompanying seven-day workweek), just like the May holiday week disappeared this year. I’m really hoping it happens.


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. Seven days without working….that’s what we do in italy as frequently as possible

  2. Didn’t this happen earlier in the year as well? I seem to remember the cPOD team mentioning a 7 day work week to make up for the long holiday ahead..

  3. […] It may not be much of a weekend in China, as many workers will be at their stations Saturday and Sunday to make up for next week’s observance of the founding of modern China. […]

  4. […] his latest Sinosplice post, John wonders whether the dread 7-day workweek will become a thing of the past as China adjusts its […]

  5. Do many Chinese jobs give “vacation time” like we have it in the US, where you get X amount of weeks every year, and you arrange the time off yourself? This seems to work a whole lot better than the old “let’s have all 1.3 billion people go on vacation at the exact same time” method.

  6. Anyway, a lot of Chinese people work based on 7-day workweek all the year around.

  7. Didn’t know that you went to 华东师大for your degree. I’ll actually be there the first week of Nov. Hope to see you there. Best, Cathy

    • Love Guan Shu (Steve Guan) Says: May 26, 2015 at 8:39 pm

      Hi Cathy,
      I am the girlfriend of SHu. We are together when we studied in Peking University. You took him from me. I also live in California now and meet my lover SHu very often. He works in Walt Disney. 🙂

  8. Yeh.. We are really quite lazy seeming when you look at the amount of days in a year we essentially waste on ‘days off’.

    There are matters that certainly need attending to that can not be done at work and are much easier, and perhaps more comfortable, when done with a few hours to spare either side.

    However if I think about the amount of time, and money for that matter, that I spend on essentially useless, temporary, ‘leisure’ activities.. I really think that I am not that free from the chains of society at all.

    I spend probably 30 to 40 percent of my time and money on those useless leisure things, which is a lot of time and money. It’s fun for a short amount of time but ultimately it is wasteful.

  9. The biggest problem I find with the holiday replacement schedule is that it screws with how I plan certain chores. There’s a weekend, which ought to be a time to go out and get things done, but I’ve got to work instead. And then there’s the long holiday, when the places I need to go to are not open. By the time the next weekend comes around, there’s lots more stuff to be done so the tasks just pile up. Loads of fun.

  10. Ben, I believe the new holiday system + the new labor law is supposed to have that effect, with rules about how many days of paid vacation are mandated for workers with how many years at the same company. I’m pretty sure the China Law Blog has covered this before if you want more details.

    –Micah (whose school has the sense to make this a 9-day vacation)

  11. I lucked out, I got to reschedule the missed classes on my own time–so I have eight days off now.

    Worst was my second year, we had to work two days on the weekend to get a total of three days off. How does that work? Exchanging two regular days off for one extra day?

  12. I’m an English teacher working here in China. The 7 day work week to “make up” for the vacation time is very normal for the Chinese, but it is really a quandry for us foreigners. We fight with the management about it, but they don’t understand our resistance to making up for a vacation.

    Really, the point of a public holiday in China is to prevent worker burnout as much as it is to boost the economy (and celebrate something of cultural/historical importance I suppose), but the current arrangement is a bit counter-productive.

  13. That sounds silly! What’s the point in having days off if you have to work on days when you wouldn’t have had to? I can seriously see why foreigners wouldn’t like that idea.

  14. […] days’ (weekends, in other words, or those days weekends have been swapped with to make up for Golden Week holidays). Ummm…. so these restrictions begin on a public holiday, meaning public […]

  15. Seektruthfromfacts Says: September 28, 2008 at 11:16 pm

    According to the China Daily 🙂 one of the reasons for introducing Golden Weeks was that many workers were pressured not to take their paid holiday ‘for the good of the family/company/country’. It’s harder for bosses to get away with it when everyone’s off.

    I think another reason was to get people into the habit of going away for a holiday rather than taking the odd day here and there when they had to meet somebody at the station/look after their sick aunt/deal with the landlord… It was intended to kickstart the domestic tourist industry, and I think it’s worked to some extent. I seem to remember hearing that from some tourist organization gentleman on CCTV9.

  16. My wild guess on where the holidy rescheduling system stems from: China has never been a religious nation and there is no concept of Sabbath which you should keep holy despite of your duties and daily routines. Sunday is just a day like any other day, which can be ignored and abused….

  17. But don’t some people have to work during the holiday? What about police and the people who run stores and the tourist places? I mean, on Labor Day in the US, there are still people working.

  18. Hobielover, the people who work on the holidays here are supposed to get triple pay. Of course, labor laws aren’t always enforced and I’m sure some employers screw the employees out of the pay and/or vacation time.

  19. Some Chinese don’t even get national holidays, extra pay for working national holidays, nor paid overtime.

    Such is life.

  20. I have always wondered about the need for “making up” the holiday days. For some work situations, it seems to make at least some sense… work is work, things need to be done, etc.. ok.
    But, I have never understood the need for imposing this on the public school calender. Why can’t the extra days be scheduled into the beginning and end of the school calender?

  21. “have always wondered about the need for “making up” the holiday days. For some work situations, it seems to make at least some sense… work is work, things need to be done, etc.. ok”

    I don’t think it’s makes sense; and more of symptom of China’s weak management aspect. Worker productivity plummets on the last two days of the 7-day work week.

  22. Response to Lorean: sure.. of course productivity/management could be scheduled better. I was only wondering about the school calender because.. that is such a fixed thing. Wherever I went to school it was arranged simply: we had the the two week vacation for Christmas. The holiday started on such-and-such-day. There was no “9-day week” of classes or seven days or whatver before the holiday. But the required number of school days was met because the start and end of the school year compensated for this. It doesn’t seem to be rocket sciece, though I am not privy to all of the details that factor into the Chinese school calendar. One thing I can be sure of is: the students I know uniformly express dislike for the national holiday, or they DON’T express any particular joy for it. Why would they, when they have to slog through a seven-day school week in advance of the “holiday?”

  23. […] today due to next weeks school vacation.  Chinese state employees, like me, have to deal with some vacation absurdity, though they may just scrap the whole vacation anyway.  In my mind it is not a good idea to make […]

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