The new Chinese New Year that starts on February 18 will be the Year of the Pig. And this year will be a special one, the Year of the Golden Pig, that only happens every 60 years (there are 12 animal signs and 5 different cycles of these signs). According to Chinese tradition, babies born in the Year of the Golden Pig will have an especially happy and fortunate life. Therefore a baby boom is expected this year, and related to that also a maternity leave boom.
One of China’s biggest job hunting sites, ChinaHR.com, did a survey among HR managers in China about the consequences of this boom. The Shanghai Daily reports about this today, and writes that almost half of the HR managers are worried about a shortage of personnel because of the maternity boom. In China women get a minimum of 90 days off around the time the baby is born, and they are not allowed to do overtime work or night shifts during the pregnancy. Extra personnel will have to be hired, which will increase the companies’ cost.
But will there really be such a big impact on companies? I personally doubt it. I remember that the year I got married was not a good year to tie the knot according to Chinese tradition. But wedding venues and wedding planners were booked out months in advance anyway, and I did not have the feeling people were postponing their wedding because of this. Maybe the countryside is different, but in the cities (where the maternity leave effect will be the biggest) I feel people are paying less attention to this kind of traditions than before, especially young people with good educations. And taking into account that planning the birth date of a baby is more difficult than planning a wedding date, the effect there will likely be even smaller. Of course media like to write about a baby boom, but I am not so sure if there will really be a big impact.