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Daily Drip

Chinese Tech Companies Are Cancelling Required Overtime. Employees Want More

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China’s notorious 996 overwork culture is making waves again on social media as some tech companies are taking action to battle the work-balance struggle, or at least pretending to.

Chinese short video company Kuaishou just announced that it would adjust its current work schedule a week after the parent company of TikTok and Douyin, ByteDance, passed the buck and remained ambiguous on this topic.

Big-Small-Week

Though Huawei created this policy ByteDance made it mainstream. It has been implementing a big-small-week system since it was founded in 2012, which requires staff to work one more day every other weekend, with double pay on the extra workday.

tech giants youth overwork

Screenshot of tech writer Rui Ma’s Twitter thread

Kuaishou also incorporated this schedule earlier this year but announced yesterday that it plans to cancel the policy next month. The company also noted that employees who happen to work overtime would still get paid double on weekends and triple on holidays.

The news immediately shot up the trending topic charts on Chinese microblogging platform Weibo with 360 million views in less than 24 hours.

“If labor laws were useful we wouldn’t see this news,” one Weibo user wrote.

No Agreement No Change

ByteDance, however, took a less clear stand on the issue. It released the result of an internal survey last week showing that one-third of its employees are in favor of its current office hours, one-third want to change it, and the rest offered no opinion. No agreement means no change.

To some employees, the double pay is the appeal that pulled them to the company in the first place. They worry that if the big-small-week policy is canceled they will be left with the same workload but less pay.

bytedance big small week

A ByteDance employee posted on LinkedIn-like app Maimai that people want to keep the status quo because of the money. (Image via Maimai)

“They have overtime pay so they don’t want to cancel it, you understand?” says one comment on Weibo.

“Young people would never refuse to work overtime, unless they’re not paid for it,” reads another.

Healthy Wednesday

These attempts to change current policy come after Lightspeed & Quantum Studios, a video game developer owned by the world’s largest online game company Tencent, announced that starting from June 14, employees are required to log off at 6 PM on “health day” Wednesday, leave no later than 9 PM on other days, and do no extra work during weekends and holidays. The statement also noted that the team can submit requests for emergent tasks and claim time back later.

Some netizens welcomed the change and asked more companies to follow the trend, but some are questioning the legitimacy.

“So this is a benefit? I thought it’s required by law,” one commenter replied sarcastically.

“If the workload doesn’t change, it just means I need to work overtime at another place,” says another.

Related:

Why this “Involuted” Generation of Young Chinese Are “Lying Flat”

With the increasingly competitive job market and ridiculous job demands, China’s millennials and Gen Z are beginning to choose to “lie flat” — a rising buzzword referring to the resigned, unresistant and unbothered attitude that has been adopted by burnt out workers.

Cover photo via Unsplash 

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.