China has passed a new law stipulating that family members should pay regular visits to their elderly relatives, according to the government's official website.
The ruling, approved by China's National People's Congress on Friday, is part of a package of amendments to the Protection of the Rights and Interests of the Elderly legislation and will come into force on July 1, 2013.
"Family members who live separately from the elderly should visit them often," the law says, adding that "employers should guarantee the right to home leave in accordance with relevant regulations".
The law mentions no specific penalties for those who fail to visit frequently, nor elaborates on what "often" means.
But it does state that if the rights and interests of the elderly are violated, they or someone on their behalf can seek official help or file a lawsuit.
The wide-ranging law includes clauses covering intra-family conflicts regarding support obligations, housing and assets. It stipulates punishments for people who abuse the elderly, fail to support them and interfere in their freedom to marry.
The legal changes reflect the challenge China faces in dealing with an increasingly ageing society after three decades of limiting couples to a single child.