Jobs and the Future of Work

Is China heading towards a 4.5 day working week?

Emma Luxton
Senior Writer , Forum Agenda
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Jobs and the Future of Work?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Future of Work is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Future of Work

China has begun implementing an official policy for a 4.5-day working week as part of an effort to increase domestic consumption and leisure spending.

Chongqing is the first city taking steps to reduce the working week to 4.5 days. The 30 million people living in the municipality in China’s south-west will enjoy a two-and-a-half-day weekend. Hebei and Jiangxi provinces are also considering giving workers a longer weekend.

The idea was endorsed by China’s state council in August and is part of a national plan to increase consumption. It is hoped that by giving people more time off, they will spend money and provide a boost to the economy.

The largest proportion of Chinese consumers’ income goes on clothes, food and home improvements. But government officials believe that there is potential for growth in leisure spending.
151012-china us consumer spending forum chart

Source: Euromonitor, CEIC, Goldman Sachs Global Investment Research

Following the introduction of the 4.5-day working week, local economies are expected to see a boost in domestic tourism revenue, particularly during the summer months.

Domestic tourism generated nearly half a trillion US dollars for China’s economy in 2014 – far more than the amount Chinese tourists spend overseas. The extended weekend, which is expected to come into force in the summer, will give workers more opportunities to travel and spend money within China.

1512B21-china domestic tourist spend

The move is not expected to cost the economy – taking a half day off won’t translate into doing less work because employees on 40-hour contracts will still complete their normal set of hours. The government will allow organizations to manage the scheme as they see fit, and it will be up to each company to implement the policy according to their own “circumstances”. The government is encouraging commitment to the scheme from state-owned organizations, private enterprises and public-sector offices.

China is not alone in its decision to implement a shorter working week. A handful of tech companies have introduced four-day weeks in a bid to increase job satisfaction and boost staff morale. There are reports that some firms have seen an increase in revenue as a result of the extended weekends.

Have you read?
Which countries work the longest hours?
These countries work the shortest hours – and still prosper
Do women work longer hours than men?

To keep up with the Agenda subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

Author: Emma Luxton is a Digital Content Producer at Formative Content. 

Image: Attendants stand in a line to pose for a picture outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. REUTERS/Jason Lee. 

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Jobs and the Future of WorkGeographies in DepthEconomic Growth
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

How young workers can thrive with AI when they have the right skills

Peter Brown, Kathy Parker and Harriet Newlyn

July 15, 2024

About Us



Partners & Members

  • Sign in
  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum