Groundbreaking childcare benefit to counter declining Chinese population
Trip.com, an online travel agency, has announced a new initiative worth RMB1 billion (USD137 million) aimed at supporting its employees in building their families amidst China’s declining population. The China-based company revealed that employees who have been with the organization for three years or more will receive an annual bonus of RMB10,000 (USD1,378) for each newborn child from the child’s first birthday until the age of five.
The motive behind this new childcare benefit, according to James Liang, Executive Chairman of the Board of Trip.com Group, is to offer financial assistance that will encourage employees to start or expand their families while maintaining their professional aspirations and accomplishments. China’s population experienced a decline for the first time in six decades, reaching 1.411 billion in 2022, a decrease of approximately 850,000 people compared to the previous year, as reported by the National Bureau of Statistics.
In response to the population decline, certain Chinese provinces have introduced initiatives such as 30 days of paid marriage leave and extended maternity leave in order to encourage families to have more children. Nonetheless, the Central Commission for Financial and Economic Affairs in China has stated that the country’s workforce supply remains abundant, with the country’s working-age population nearing 900 million and 15 million new individuals joining the workforce annually, according to data from the commission.
He Dan, the head of the China Population and Development Research Centre, has acknowledged that a slight decline in population size and an increasingly ageing society are natural outcomes of economic and social development, as reported by Xinhua News Agency. Trip.com has previously implemented policies to support its employees in achieving a balance between their family and professional lives. In 2022, the company became the first internet company in China to introduce a hybrid work arrangement, which has been implemented in 14 markets including Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, and Australia.
Under this arrangement, employees have the option to work remotely on certain days of the week. Lian, in a previous statement, emphasized that the promotion of hybrid working is a win-win situation for companies, employees, and society. It not only enhances employee satisfaction without compromising efficiency but also contributes to reducing traffic congestion, environmental protection, addressing high housing prices and regional disparities, and supporting family life, female career development, and higher fertility rates.