The Supreme People’s Court of China has ruled that the “996” overtime practice, working 9 am to 9 pm six days a week, is illegal, targeting the controversial policy that is common to many Chinese technology companies.
China’s highest court and the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security on Thursday released guidelines and examples on what constitutes overtime, saying they are focusing on the issue because it had recently gained wide attention.
While authorities used a case involving a parcel delivery company to explain why “996” was illegal, working such hours had become a badge of honor for some Chinese companies and employees.
Silicon Valley heavyweights like Sequoia Capital’s Mike Moritz have pointed it out as a competitive advantage the country has over the United States.
But a backlash surfaced in 2019, sparking a public debate over working hours in China’s tech industry that continued.
Last month, TikTok owner ByteDance announced on Friday that it would officially end its weekend overtime policy from August 1, two weeks after rival Kuaishou announced a similar move.
The court and ministry’s criticism of “996” also comes amid a massive Beijing-led regulatory crackdown on the country’s tech giants that has targeted issues ranging from monopoly behavior to consumer rights.
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