Single? Female? Over 30? Chinese companies bring in ‘dating leave’ for Lunar New Year

Single women over 30 are commonly regarded as “leftover women” in China, and these companies apparently want to help them get married.

Two companies behind a Song dynasty-themed tourist attraction in eastern China are giving their thirty-something single women employees extra time off during the Lunar New Year to “go home and date”.

In a notice on Monday, Hangzhou Songcheng Performance and Hangzhou Songcheng Tourism Management said unmarried women over 30 in “non-frontline” roles would be granted an extra eight days of “dating leave” on top of the traditional seven-day break.

Those workers also had the option to extend the dating leave, the notice said.

Single women over 30 are commonly regarded as “leftover women” in China due to long-held conservative beliefs that women who remain unmarried beyond their mid-twenties are less desirable to men.

But as more women focus on careers, many are marrying later or opting not to marry at all.

There were more than 200 million single adults in China in 2015 and the marriage rate has fallen every year since 2013, according to data from the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

The companies operate Song Dynasty Town, a popular tourist attraction near West Lake in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.

The park is the biggest of its kind in the country and based on a period of Chinese history about 1,000 years ago. Visitors must wear flowing traditional robes while in the park, and those who refuse are given traditional “punishments” such as being put in stocks.

The companies’ dating leave decision was greeted with enthusiasm by the employees, according to Hangzhou Songcheng Performance human resources manager Huang Lei, online news outlet Zhejiang Online reported.

“The ratio of men to women in our company is about the same,” Huang was quoted as saying.

“[But] women employees mostly work in internal functional departments and some are show performers … some female staff have less contact with the outside world. Therefore, we hope to give more leave to female staff, to give them more time and opportunities to be in contact with the opposite sex.”

Huang also said that if these women were happier in their personal lives, they would be more productive at work.

The announcement comes after a high school in Hangzhou last week offered single and childless teachers an extra two half days of leave per month to find “love”.

One internet user commented on Weibo: “Who would the single women date if the single male employees aren’t given extra leave?”

Another wrote: “If a woman doesn’t worry about marriage, it’s because their standards are high and they are too picky to fulfil their wishes.”