December 4, 2008 / 11:25 AM / 9 years ago

Beijing's female cadres can now work as long as men

<p>A worker sweeps near a door in the Forbidden City in Beijing July 9, 2008.Darren Whiteside</p>

BEIJING (Reuters) - The Beijing city government plans to raise the retirement age next year for female officials to the same as that for men in order to increase gender equality for bureaucrats, city officials said.

Chinese companies and government offices usually set the mandatory retirement age for women five years earlier than for men. The policy, designed to reduce the workforce and ease the workload of female workers, can also limit their career and salary opportunities.

Beijing would raise the minimum retirement age to 60 from 55, the same as for male officials, the city municipal government said this week.

The retirement age for women in state-owned companies is 50, dropping to 45 in some industries that are considered hazardous or, in some cases, when the woman has a child.

Men generally work until they are 55 in Chinese companies, or to 50 if their job is hazardous.

Retirees can draw pensions based on average salaries in the last year they worked, so earlier mandatory retirements also limit women's pension income.

Nonetheless, women who have job security prefer to retire earlier, said Jin Mingwei, 25, the editor of a magazine at an educational group in Beijing.

"Beijing is a man's world," she told Reuters.

Many working class Chinese women welcome their early exit from tedious jobs.

"I am just a worker and I prefer to keep the retirement age the same as it is," said Zhang Hongyu, a supermarket worker who gets one day off a week.

That perspective is shared by some professional women.

"I don't want to delay my retirement age," said Wang Xiaohong, a mechanical engineer in her 30s at the prestigious Tsinghua University.

The pressure of work is greater for women than for men, Wang said.

"But I think men and women are equal at work," she added.

Bao Xiuzhi, at the Chengbei hospital in eastern Anhui province, said she would welcome the greater salary that comes with retiring later.

"My work is not very hard and I wouldn't mind doing it until 55," she said.

Reporting by Beijing Newsroom; Editing by Lucy Hornby and Paul Tait

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