TikTok owner ByteDance strikes blow to ‘996’ culture, cuts workday to 9 hours
ByteDance has ordered its employees to end their day by 7 pm, becoming one of the first tech companies in China to officially mandate shorter working hours.
Staff in China should only work from 10 am to 7 pm on Mondays to Fridays and will need to seek permission to stay beyond those hours at least one day in advance, according to an internal document on Monday that was seen by Bloomberg News. A representative for the TikTok and Douyin owner declined to comment.
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The country’s gruelling work pace – known as “996” because employees often labour from 9 am to 9 pm six days a week – was long celebrated by tech billionaires from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s Jack Ma to JD.com Inc. founder Richard Liu. But it’s come under renewed scrutiny this year, fueled by deaths associated with overwork and a growing chorus of social media complaints. With President Xi Jinping calling on the country to work toward “common prosperity,” authorities have stepped up warnings against employers to refrain from unreasonable overtime and other violations.
Under the new policy, employees can apply to work overtime no more than 3 hours on a weekday or 8 hours on a weekend, according to the document. They will receive extra compensation of up to three times their normal wage for the overtime.
The new policy is the latest effort by ByteDance to improve worker welfare. Earlier this year, the social media giant, along with rival Kuaishou Technology, cancelled an alternating system where employees just take one day off per week every two weeks.
A short-lived campaign last month saw some private-sector workers, including those from ByteDance, come together to share their working hours in protest against the country’s excessive working culture.