“Recently, extreme overtime in some industries has received wide attention,” the Supreme People’s Court wrote in its statement, which it released with the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security. Workers deserve “rest and vacation” rights, adding that “joining the national working hours system is employers’ legal obligation,” the court wrote.
He cited several examples of companies across a range of industries that he said broke work rules, including an anonymous courier company that he said told employees to work 996 hours. Telling employees to work as much “seriously violated the law on extending the upper limit of working hours and should be considered invalid,” the court said.
The public reaction to the culture of excessive work is not new. Alibaba ( Co-founder Jack Ma, for example, came under heavy criticism in China two years ago after calling Culture 996 a “huge blessing.” And Chinese labor law already prohibits employees from working that long. )
“There is nothing wrong with advocating hard work, but it cannot be a shield for employers. [their] legal responsibilities, ”the court wrote on Thursday.
The debate on culture 996 was revived this year during the crackdown on private enterprise. In January, the e-commerce company Pinduo ( has faced a backlash over allegations it overloads its employees, after the sudden death of two of its employees, including a man who committed suicide. )
The company did not respond to questions at the time about allegations made against its work culture, but said it had set up a team to provide psychological support following the suicide of a worker .
Recently, Chinese youth have also started to reject a culture of intense work by invoking the desire to “lay flat” or “tang ping”. The philosophy calls on people to reject societal pressures to work hard, get married, have children, or buy property because of the diminishing rewards of achieving such goals.
– Laura He and Sophie Jeong contributed to this report.