Foshan, Guangdong province Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Foshan, Guangdong province Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Call it a family pension scheme. The norms of filial piety in Chinese societies mean that many Chinese give back a portion of their income to their parents.

It begins when a graduate gets his or her first job while still living at home. And it continues for years, or possibly decades, even after the offspring has left the family home for marriage or even emigration.

Chinese children might be too shy to kiss their parents, but they will give them money every month until they no longer need it.

However in these days of surging home prices in Hong Kong and China it is becoming ever-more challenging for new members of the work force to help support their elders in this way.

Some graduates find it hard to pay their own rent and bills when they leave home to take up work in other cities – let alone finding housekeeping money for their parents. Yet the long-running Chinese tradition continues.

Now a company from Foshan in Guangdong has come up with a new idea which it calls a “filial piety fund”. Under their scheme, the company matches any money a staff member pays to their parents.

For example, if a staff member who makes 4,900 yuan (US$706) net of tax and social security agrees to allocate 300 yuan from his salary to his parents, the company will deposit another 300 yuan into his parents’ account.

According to Pear Video, company managers wanted to create a culture of thanksgiving among their workers to remind them not to forget their parents, wherever they were.

Judging from the initial online reaction, social media commentators in China like this idea. Perhaps because a young person who used to give 600 yuan to his parents every month can now save half of the money for himself.

In Chinese culture, many young people give 10 to 20% of their salaries to their parents in the first few years of their working lives, even though they have to repay their student loans at the same time.

Commentators on social media called for more companies to follow suit. Some went even further, suggesting that companies should grant workers an extra holiday to take care of their parents.