ByteDance limits overtime in shift away from controversial '996' system

The TikTok owner is mandating a nine-hour workday after authorities urged companies to comply with national working hours

The ByteDance and TikTok logos displayed on a tablet and smartphone

ByteDance has forced its employees to end their working day by 7pm as Chinese authorities crackdown on the country's controversial 996 working hour system. 

The company, which owns social media platform TikTok, has told staff they should only work from 10am to 7pm and will need to seek permission at least one day in advance if they intend to stay outside of those hours, according to documents seen by Bloomberg.

Employees will be able to work overtime for no more than three hours on a weekday or eight hours on a weekend and will receive extra compensation of up to three times their salary for the hours worked.

ByteDance started to shift away from overtime work culture last August when it pivoted away from an overtime practice that gave employees one day off per week every two weeks, as reported by Global Times. Overtime work culture has been a fixture of Chinese internet startups, with many seeing it as a key reason for their rapid rise to success.

This is part of China’s 996 working hour system, where employees often labour from 9am to 9pm, six days a week. This has been at odds with the country's labour laws, which stipulate that a standard workday is eight hours long, with a maximum of 44 hours a week. 

Related Resource

Seven steps to connect and empower your frontline workers

How business leaders can improve communication with a secure platform

Man with a hat on backwards squinting Free download

China’s top court and labour ministry published a joint statement in September detailing that workers have the right to corresponding compensation and rest times, and that complying with national working hours is necessary, as reported by the BBC. The authorities warned that further guidelines will be developed in the future in regard to labour disputes.

Until now, the government has taken a hands-off approach to enforcing the law. Alibaba founder Jack Ma has defended the 996 culture in the past, calling it “a blessing” and warning that without it, China’s economy was likely to lose vitality and impetus.

However, it has now come under renewed scrutiny this year after two workers at e-commerce platform Pinduoduo died weeks apart, one worker collapsing on the way home from work and another died by suicide. At another company, Ele.me, a Chinese courier set himself on fire in protest at over unpaid Alibaba wages.

In April 2019, Microsoft employees largely based in the US urged the tech giant to protect a statement on GitHub made by Chinese developers condemning the 996 work week. The statement said that overwork in the Chinese tech industry could be both a health hazard and a violation of Chinese labour law, with Microsoft employees saying that the post had been the target of censorship on some Chinese browsers.

Featured Resources

How virtual desktop infrastructure enables digital transformation

Challenges and benefits of VDI

Free download

The Okta digital trust index

Exploring the human edge of trust

Free download

Optimising workload placement in your hybrid cloud

Deliver increased IT agility with the cloud

Free Download

Modernise endpoint protection and leave your legacy challenges behind

The risk of keeping your legacy endpoint security tools

Download now

Recommended

Singapore and Madrid named biggest movers in latest data centre rankings
data centres

Singapore and Madrid named biggest movers in latest data centre rankings

20 Jan 2022
UK and Australia partner on cyber security investment
Policy & legislation

UK and Australia partner on cyber security investment

20 Jan 2022
Rackspace fortifies APAC footprint with new acquisition
cloud computing

Rackspace fortifies APAC footprint with new acquisition

19 Jan 2022
IOC defends China Olympics app after 'devastating flaw' revealed
Security

IOC defends China Olympics app after 'devastating flaw' revealed

19 Jan 2022

Most Popular

How to boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode
Microsoft Windows

How to boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode

6 Jan 2022
Sony pulls out of MWC 2022
Business operations

Sony pulls out of MWC 2022

14 Jan 2022
Dell XPS 15 (2021) review: The best just got better
Laptops

Dell XPS 15 (2021) review: The best just got better

14 Jan 2022