ByteDance, owner of the popular social media app TikTok, is implementing a new policy to regulate overtime work among staff amid the prevalent "996" culture in its home base of China.
996 is short-hand for employees being pressured to work a gruelling shift from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. for six days a week. While big names in the Chinese tech industry, such as Alibaba founder Jack Ma and JD.com founder Richard Liu, have lauded the 996 system as crucial to success, this culture of overwork has also come under fire from people on social media. Just this year, at least two cases of employees dying from exhaustion reignited the debate over this unspoken policy.
ByteDance, however, is reportedly pivoting away from this tendency among employers to push their teams to breaking point. With the new mandate in place, employees are allowed to work only between 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Monday to Friday, according to a staff memo seen by Bloomberg.
Anyone who wishes to work outside of these hours will need to apply for overtime work at least one day ahead.
The tech company has also set a cap on the number of hours an employee can render overtime work: no more than three hours on a weekday and eight hours on a weekend. Staff members who are approved to work overtime will be remunerated with up to three times their regular wage.
The decision to rein in work hours comes on the heels of a joint statement from China's highest court and labour ministry, which bars employers from mandating a 72-hour work week.
The warning was a stern reminder for employers that the 996 practice is illegal.