Honeymoon’s over

By Yin Lu Source:Global Times Published: 2015-12-27 19:13:01

In the wake of shortened nuptial leave, couples rush to get married

Recent news of canceling late marriage vacation leads to registration fever. Photo: Li Hao/GT

Getting engaged is usually a happy time for young couples, but for 25-year-old Jane Zhang, it's proved an emotional roller coaster.

Zhang, who works in media and communications in Beijing, had just said yes to her boyfriend's proposal, and was making plans for their wedding when she was hit by a thunderbolt. News had got her worried that due to a change in the law, the weeks long nuptial leave she was expecting might be reduced to just three days. Once passed, the new regulation would reportedly take effect on January 1, 2016.

When she heard the news, Zhang was thrown into a panic. She immediately started making plans to register marriage before 2016, so that she and her husband could still enjoy the longer leave.

"I even asked my mother to mail me my hukouben (household residence booklet) [which is required for registration]," said Zhang, who is from Shanxi Province but wants to register in Beijing.

On December 21, a draft amendment was submitted for review at the National People's Congress Standing Committee's bi-monthly session that stated not only China's intention to encourage Chinese couples to have two children, but also removed provisions allowing a longer leave for people who marry and give birth late.

So-called "late marriages" have been encouraged in China up till now. Under the current law, men over the age of 25 and women over the age of 23 are entitled to 10 to 3o days of leave. It varies depending on the specific regulations of different provinces and cities, but is longer compared to three days for those who marry younger or marry for the second time. For example, Beijing allows 10 days of leave for late marriages, and an extra 30 days of maternity leave on top of the federally mandated 98 for women who give birth to children over the age of 24.

Since the announcement of the shortened leave, couples have been thronging the marriage offices. The Chaoyang office of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Civil Affairs reported a registration spike last Tuesday morning from usual 70 to 80 couples to around 300.

However, lawyers are reminding lovers that there's no need to rush into registering before the end of the year.

Li Yingchun, a lawyer with Yingke Law Firm who specializes in labor law, told the Metropolitan that the number of leave days is not uniform across the country, but set by each province and city according to their own regulations. "Regional regulations often lag behind national changes to the law. These procedures take time. So people who are rushing to register for marriage can relax," said Li.

He added that couples who are saving their leave days for the future don't need to rush to use them up before the end of this year. "Based on the non-retroactivity of the law, if couples get married before their city government deletes the provisions offering longer leave for late marriages, they should still be able to enjoy the extra days later, even after the provisions are deleted," Li said.

According to the Beijing Morning Post last Wednesday, the Beijing Municipal Human Resources and Social Security Bureau said they haven't received any notices about reducing the length of the late marriage leave.

As for Zhang, she says that lacking any solid information, she's abandoned her plan of a rush marriage and is just going to go with the flow.

"I will go back home during the New Year's Day holidays, return with the booklet, and register in 2016," said Zhang. 

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