New 2016 China Holiday Schedule

Posted on February 8, 2016

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China Centric wishes everyone a happy and prosperous Chinese New Year. For those who may need a little background on the holiday, Chinese New Year, otherwise known as Spring Festival, marks the start of a new cycle in the traditional Chinese calendar. Unlike the Gregorian calendar, which tracks the position of the earth to the Sun, the traditional Chinese calendar (also known as the Agricultural or Nongli calendar) follows a combination of the lunar phases and solar cycle. Traditionally one of China’s oldest and most important holidays, the Chinese New Year celebrations include an abundance of fireworks, parades, and ceremonies that can last anywhere from a week to a month depending on the individual and regional customs.

As the longest and most celebrated holiday in the country, a noticeable slow down in business operations is readily observed during this period. Businesses generally close for the full 7-day holiday but it is not uncommon for some companies to take several weeks or even the entire month off depending on the industry. Chinese companies will often see a wind down in production during the days leading up to Chinese New Year and a slow ramp-up in the days following the official week. With the length of Chinese New Year and this variation in holiday schedules among industries, running a China operation can seem daunting to those new to the China landscape. Throwing the other observed National Holidays into the mix, it is unsurprising that many Western management teams worry about how they can effectively plan for and manage their China operations throughout the year.

It is true that Chinese holidays will have some impact to a business’s operation, just as the Christmas holiday does in the West. However, official rules and regulations concerning the National Holidays allow for enough flexibility for Chinese companies to effectively manage production delays.

Three weeks before the January 1, the Chinese government will publish the official holiday dates for the upcoming year.

The official National Holiday Schedule for 2016 is as follows:

New Year’s Day Jan 1 – 3
Chinese New Year/Spring Festival February 7 – 13
Qingming Festival April 2 – 4
International Labor Day April 30 – May 2
Dragon Boat Festival/Duanwu Festival June 9 – 11
Mid Autumn Festival September 15 – 17
National Day October 1 – 7
Woman’s Day March 8

The government published official National Holiday Schedule for the current year can be found here.

While the official National Holiday Schedule consists of nearly a full month of holidays, the government statute mandates that employers only need to provide a minimum of 11.5 days off. The legally required minimum days off are as follow:

New Year’s Day 1 working day
Chinese New Year/Spring Festival 3 working days
Qingming Festival 1 working day
International Labor Day 1 working day
Dragon Boat Festival/Duanwu Festival 1 working day
Mid Autumn Festival 1 working day
National Day 3 working days
Women’s Day ½ working day

Most Chinese businesses generally structure their holiday schedule with the published government holiday dates. However, as the legal mandate only requires 11.5 working days off, companies have the flexibility to arrange their work schedule as they see fit. For example, Chinese businesses are generally closed for the full 7-day holiday for Chinese New Year. Employees may only be awarded “3 working days” off and may be required to make up the remainder by working on the weekend.

For example, the official National Holiday Schedule for Chinese New Year is February 7 – 13. A company may close its operations for the entire week. However, the official holiday days awarded to its employees may be from February 7 – 9. February 10 – 13 would then be considered a combined weekend. The employee would then make up the missed work days on the weekend.

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It is also important to note that while companies have the flexibility in structuring their holiday schedules, they will have to pay overtime if they request their staff to work during the official National Holiday Schedule.

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Posted in: China Blogs