“Baby shortage” struck, increasing parental leave to “stop the decline” of the population

During Easter every year, for employees of local government departments, institutions or some private enterprises, it is nothing more than a “golden” holiday. It just happens that this year’s Easter plus Ching Ming Festival is a five-day holiday. Don’t make employees who have a vacation share cheer for them.

The establishment of holidays is not only a kind of welfare for employees, but also for employers and even the whole society, it seems that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. The first is to have a positive effect on the economic benefits of tourism in the region. Take Japan as an example. The end of April to the beginning of May is called the Golden Week every year, which undoubtedly increases local tourism revenue. For Hong Kong and Macau, during the Easter holidays every year, citizens scramble to go out, which has a positive impact on the global tourism market. Even during the epidemic prevention period of the new crown epidemic, on the surface, epidemic prevention policies implemented around the world restrict tourism activities, but in fact the unpaid leave or flexible working holiday system can be said to be the “last straw” for business employers. , Its pros and cons are obvious. During the employee’s vacation, on the one hand, it increases the time spent with parents and children of the working family. On the other hand, for the labor market, the issuance of holidays has played a transitional role.

Although the holidays are coming, the global new crown epidemic has had an impact on the population. Some countries have even experienced a “baby shortage”. Travel restrictions and changes in the epidemic have dragged down the fertility rate, and the slow population growth will also have a long-term economic impact on enterprises. . According to estimates by the Brookings Institution, the number of newborns in Mainland China in 2020 will be slightly more than 10 million, a drop of more than 12% from 11.8 million in 2019. In Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom and France, the total fertility rate is currently below 2 and is not expected to rise. For this reason, promoting population growth may become a top priority for local governments. If timely adjustments to childcare policies, such as extending maternity leave, increasing paternity leave for men, and establishing parental leave or parental allowance, then this can not only have a positive impact on the birth rate, but also reflect employers. Release the “family-friendly” side to employees.

Problems caused by low birth rate

Whether a city’s labor holidays are optimized can directly reflect whether the area’s social welfare system is perfect or not, and whether the government’s management of the entire city’s population structure has been optimized. On the other hand, the Australian government has mentioned “family-friendly policies” in its policy addresses for many years. Last year, the Legislative Council passed the “Revision No. 7/2008 Labor Relations Law” to respond to social demands and improve labor relations with laws and regulations. The amendments to the bill mainly include the addition of 5 working days of paternity leave for men, and the increase of the number of maternity leave to 70 days. It can be seen that the policy of adding paternity leave for men and increasing maternity leave for women is to encourage more young families to raise and cultivate the next generation and increase the birth rate of the local population. Over the years, many civil society organizations have also voiced calls for the government to amend the Labor Relations Law. For example, the Women’s Federation proposes that women’s maternity leave should be in line with public servants’ 90 days; the Federation of Trade Unions hopes that the government will prompt SMEs to implement a 5-day work system and implement paid Funeral leave and marriage leave. In other words, the continuous update and revision of the “Labor Law” will be a goal that the government and all sectors of society must work together.

Looking around the world, the distribution of holidays is directly related to the marriage rate, birth rate and even the aging of the population. South Korea will experience population “negative growth” for the first time in 2020, and the problem of population decline along with the arrival of the new semester in March has aroused great concern in South Korean society. In an elementary school less than three kilometers from downtown Busan, South Korea, there were only 4 new students enrolled last year, and only 57 students in the school. At the end of last semester, the school merged with another elementary school and the students transferred collectively. The primary school that has been in the school for 60 years has been officially closed, and the school’s house number and school name plate have been removed. Even in Seoul, the most densely populated city, nearly 20% of elementary school students have fewer than 50 students. Due to the decrease in the school-age enrollment population, a total of 30 primary, middle and high schools were closed in South Korea last year alone. In 2020, South Korea’s total fertility rate dropped to 0.84, the lowest in history, far below the 2.1 required to maintain the status quo of the population. At present, this fertility rate is almost the lowest in the world. Affected by the low birthrate and population aging for many years, according to current demographic trends, in 2065, the number of people over 65 in South Korea will exceed the working-age population, and South Korea’s pensions will be exhausted by 2055. Some Korean media even commented that if the population problem is not resolved, let alone national competitiveness, it will be a question of whether the country will exist in the future.

As far as South Korea, as recently as Hong Kong, the problem of low birth rates also occurs. The “Hong Kong Population Projection 2020-2069” report shows that the birth rate in Hong Kong has remained at a low level in the past 20 years. The reasons include late marriage, increased female singleness and divorce rate. Rise and so on. The report estimates that the total fertility rate will drop from 1,051 live births per 1,000 women in 2019 to 1,010 in 2069. In addition, by 2069, there will be only 685 men for every 1,000 women, and women account for 60% of the population, and Hong Kong will become a world of women. That is, an average of 1.46 Hong Kong women competed for 1 Hong Kong man. Like South Korea and Hong Kong, Macao is also facing the problem of low birth rate and growing aging. According to statistics from the Macao Statistics and Census Bureau, there were 1,345 newborn babies in the fourth quarter of 2020, a decrease of 63 quarterly. A total of 5,545 babies were born each year, a year-on-year decrease of 434, and the birth rate was 8.1‰, a decrease of 0.8 thousand points from 2019.

In the early years, there have been cases in Macau where schools were closed due to insufficient enrollment, regardless of whether the factors are directly related to the low birth rate, but in recent years, the enrollment of some schools in Macau has been uneven. As a result, some schools have “bursted” in the number of applicants, but some schools have no interest. Excluding external factors such as school reputation, teachers, and fees, the main factor that parents consider is how to take care of their children. Especially for some dual-time families, the cost issue must be considered when taking care of their children. One is time cost, and the other is money cost. The two draw and influence each other. If one of the parents takes care of the responsibilities by themselves, they can only choose flexible hours of work or even give up employment opportunities. If you choose to work full-time, you can only choose to let go of the care duties to your family or domestic helpers. The former will create employment or return to the workplace, while the latter will cover more complicated issues, namely the hiring of domestic helpers and its chaos.

The pros and cons of domestic helpers

As a city of multiculturalism, Macau, with the opening of free travel in 2003, the gaming industry and the retail, catering, and hotel industries can be described as a lot of news, and the opening of non-local employees to the local labor market makes this group of cities a city. Construction and economic development have contributed a lot. Although there have been mixed opinions on the importation of foreign employment in the society in recent years, it must be mentioned that the arrival of foreign employment, especially domestic employment, has indeed reduced the burden on many dual-time families in taking care of their children. Whether it is a family engaged in a 24-hour rotation system or a nine-to-five well-off home, household employment undoubtedly plays a more important role. Their work covers pick-up and drop-off, housekeeping, etc., for most families , Usually the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

In addition to revitalizing the labor market and reducing the burden on working families, the government’s import of foreign labor has also played a role in encouraging young families to pass on from generation to generation and increase the birth rate of babies. It is a pity that some domestic helpers have not been able to stand by themselves. It is either that they meet up with confidants and friends to the community park to have a dinner and chat for a long time without seeing people, or they have violated professional ethics, prompting employers to be out of their jobs and have no time to take care of the work at hand. The right to monitor is given to the monitoring equipment, or the elders in the family do it for them, which not only escalates family conflicts, but also forces the original dual-time family to switch to a single-time job. Coupled with the outbreak of a new crown epidemic, the original lifestyle was forced to adjust, and the domestic helpers who were stranded outside could not come back, forcing some parents who were spending unpaid leave to quit their jobs and devote themselves to their full-time dad. Mom’s industry has spent more time with her children, but her income has decreased, and family problems have emerged since then, and a vicious circle has appeared. It can be seen that, on the surface, the government’s implementation of the domestic helper policy will reduce the burden on working families, but in fact it has caused even greater worries. Instead of promoting the birth rate through the external policy of hiring domestic helpers, it is better to consider amending the labor law, such as extending maternity leave and increasing parental leave, so that dual-time families can take care of their children and save them the worries of rejoining society.

Adding parental leave starts with labor law

According to the International Labor Organization’s “Convention on the Protection of Women’s Maternity,” maternity leave should be at least 14 weeks, and the salary should be at least 2/3. The mainland has reached this standard; although Taiwan has only 8 weeks of maternity leave, it also has paid parental leave; Hong Kong has only 10 weeks of maternity leave, and there is no parental leave. In the report “The Global Gender Gap Report 2018” released by the World Economic Forum, only 58 countries and regions currently have parental leave, accounting for only 30% of the World Bank members. However, this has increased a lot from the 44 in 2010. It can be seen that the adoption of legislation to determine parental leave has become an international trend. Therefore, in order to increase the birth rate and avoid “baby shortage”, the author puts forward three suggestions to improve and upgrade the labor law. 1. Increase maternity leave with pay for women to 90 days; 2. Increase parental leave; 3. Increase parental allowance. The detailed rules for the implementation of the above recommendations must also be determined in accordance with the social conditions of Australia. On the premise of protecting both employers and employees, more detailed research and judgment can be carried out before they can be implemented. I look forward to the future labor policy keeping pace with the times, making suggestions for the infant birth rate, and fully realizing the vision of the “family-friendly policy” as soon as possible.