A food delivery worker braves heavy snow in Songyuan, Jilin province, on Nov 19. China DAILY

The whole nation is facing a cold wave, and one city after another has witnessed record low temperatures. As a result the low-temperature allowance has attracted public attention.

Like the high temperature allowance, the low temperature allowance is for those working in extreme temperatures, but the people’s awareness of the two allowances is worlds apart. A survey of more than 7,000 employees showed that 84 percent had never heard of the low temperature allowance. Many netizens also said that they did not know of the allowance.

The low-temperature allowance was included in the Minimum Wage Regulation, which came into effect in March 2004. It specifically stressed that subsidies for working in conditions such as low temperatures should not be included in the minimum wage standard.

However, quite a few questions were left unanswered by the regulation. Below what temperature should the allowance be given? How much is the allowance? How long should it last?

Without these being specified, workers are dependent on the goodwill of their employers to get the allowance. Some media outlets have even called it “a subsidy on paper”.

That must change. According to the industrial injury list issued in 2015, low temperatures are one of the main hazards for industrial injuries.

The majority of those who are exposed to the current low temperatures through their work are street cleaners and delivery riders. The low-temperature allowance might not be much, but for people such as these who earn low wages, the extra money may possibly make a quite big difference in improving their livelihoods.

For years, at legislative and political consultative conferences nationwide, deputies and advisors have been proposing detailed clauses on low temperature allowances. It might be difficult to introduce one standard for the whole nation, but at least we can start in some northern provinces, where it can be extremely cold in winter.

For example, as long as local financial capabilities allow it, some provinces or cities could issue low temperature allowances for street cleaners first, because their job conditions are among the most difficult.

It is bitterly cold now, yet many people still have to work outside. We cannot change the weather, but the allowances would help warm people’s hearts.