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Chinese Netizens Envy Four-Day Work Week Trial in the UK

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The world’s largest trial of a four-day work week — with no pay cuts! — kicked off in the United Kingdom on Monday, June 6. The pilot, which will last for six months, involves more than 3,300 workers at 70 companies, ranging from local restaurants to top companies in the financial sector.

Chinese netizens have been following the news closely, and a related Weibo hashtag has garnered almost 3 million views. Most Weibo users are jealous of the new work arrangement.

“Now I’m not sure which country is capitalist. I just wonder when we can enforce two-day weekends [sad emoji],” lamented one netizen.

Another quipped, “Don’t be envious of more days off; don’t forget they have higher salaries as well.”

Meanwhile, a few level-headed netizens astutely pointed out that the trial only applies to a small percentage of the population.

“Do y’all understand? It’s a trial, an experiment organized by groups, not government-led; the whole country isn’t going through it,” explained one netizen.

“It doesn’t count until it becomes statutory. Though there are no pay cuts [in the U.K. trial], it just means that Friday’s work is divided among the remaining four workdays,” reads one comment.

China is notorious for its overtime work culture, which is colloquially dubbed ‘996’ (working from 9 AM until 9 PM six days a week) or ‘007’ (working round the clock, or from midnight until the following midnight, seven days a week).

In recent years, however, employees have been opposing the system by opting for flexible employment, doing the bare minimum at work, or quitting their jobs entirely.

As a result, some corporations have rolled out fairer rules. Tech giants such as TikTok maker ByteDance, short-video platform Kuaishou, and Tencent have canceled required overtime — although this also means less pay.

Earlier this year, online travel agency Trip.com announced that they would be introducing a hybrid work policy from March 1 onwards, making it the first large Chinese company to adopt such a model.

Cover image via Depositphotos

Lu Zhao
Lu Zhao is a bilingual and multimedia journalist with a focus on human interest and social issues. Her work has appeared in USA Today, UPI, SupChina, Pandaily, Chicago Reporter, and other publications.

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