The Supreme People’s Court, the top court in China, has condemned the age-old practice of long working hours, that is, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. for six days a week. The top court along with the country’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security has gone ahead and outlawed this ‘996’ culture, ruling that it is illegal for employers to think they have the right to make employees follow such long work hours and such a stressful culture at work.
Employees have the legal right to demand overtime compensation and holidays and rest periods. The ruling stated that employers are obliged to follow the “national regime for working hours” and that overtime may lead to labour disputes and affect the relationship between employees and their employers.
The ruling came after reviewing several cases pertaining to denial of payment for overtime and even death due to overwork! Not long ago, an employee had died by suicide, overwhelmed by too much work. This may mean the end of the stressfully long and demanding work schedules that were very common in the Chinese tech space.
While the move has been welcomed by one and all, many feel that it will not be easy to do away with the 996 culture overnight, since it has been followed for decades and is deeply embedded in the Chinese work culture, especially in the country’s powerful and growing tech sector.