Chinese short video company Kuaishou has officially canceled its weekend overtime policy, while competitor, TikTok parent company ByteDance, is internally debating whether to do the same.
Kuaishou’s decision, which raised $ 5.4 billion in public announcement earlier this year, comes as China’s tech industry grapples with employee complaints of overwork and abuse. In January, news of two deaths at e-commerce giant Pinduoduo further fueled national debate over the infamous Schedule “996” to work 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. six days a week.
Kuaishou and ByteDance had previously adopted the practice common to many Chinese tech giants, known as “big / small weeks,” which means staff work every other Sunday every other weekend. After six months, Kuaishou announced that he would end the practice from this week.
Beijing’s tightening of regulations against Big Techs could be one reason for the change, said Shan Guo, a Shanghai-based analyst at consultancy Plenum.ai.
After President Xi called for ‘preventing disorderly capital expansion’ last year and ‘strengthening worker protection’ in April, it would be difficult for policymakers to turn a blind eye to the labor practices of giants of technology, because the overtime policy benefits capital. owners more than workers, ”she said. [Guo] mentionned.
Staff at ByteDance and Kuaishou also speculated that their businesses were motivated by reducing the high cost of overtime pay.
“We encourage staff to find a balance between work and rest, and to spend more time with family and friends,” Kuaishou wrote in an internal staff memo reported by national media last week, adding that hours additional could always be requested if needed. Kuaishou confirmed the policy change.
Some Kuaishou staff looked forward to returning to their weekends. “Goodbye, big / small weeks!” posted an employee on the professional networking platform Maimai, sharing a screenshot of her alarm set only on weekdays.
But many others questioned whether the move was anything other than cosmetic, saying they expected their teams to demand that they “voluntarily” continue to work on weekends.
If the staff do get their weekends back, the move means a significant reduction in income expenses for Kuaishou. Chinese labor law states that weekend overtime must be paid at double the regular rate.
As a result, under the long / short week policy, staff are paid around 20 percent more, a premium that some young professionals prefer to keep.
Kuaishou’s move has raised hopes among staff at competitor ByteDance that they will soon do the same, with national media reporting internal discussions that the weekend’s work will end in July. ByteDance said it has not commented on market rumors.
At a company-wide meeting last month, ByteDance’s new chief executive, Liang Rubo, announced that the company has reconsidered its long / short work policy, which it has been pursuing ever since. many years. However, Liang added, a staff survey found that a third were in favor of continuing the policy, while a third were against.
“There’s a lot of pressure to fix it, but they haven’t necessarily decided on the best course of action,” one employee said. Another added that opinions were divided between management and different teams of staff.
“Some don’t want to lose their salary. Some fear that if [weekend working] is canceled but the workload does not change so they will end up losing, ”said one employee.
Additional reports by Nian Liu and Qianer Liu