'Compulsory paid leave' in Shenzhen: a way out of overtime work culture?

By Deng Xiaoci Source: Global Times Published: 2020/8/25 15:58:27

Shenzhen. Photo: VCG

"Compulsory paid leave" might soon be coming to Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province, in the Chinese tech hub's latest bid to better ensure the well-being of its local labor force.

A draft regulation submitted to the Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China Shenzhen City Committee for a second reading explicitly stipulates that employers in Shenzhen should strictly follow the paid leave system for their employees, while urging human resources and social security departments as well as agencies including labor unions to step up supervision and inspection for the policy's implementation, media reported.

The "compulsory paid leave" policy has been made public in article 66 of the draft regulation titled "Health rules of the Shenzhen Economic Special Zone" since July 22, according to the committee's website. 

It urges employers to properly schedule rest times for employees, and to adopt a days-off rotation system for those who are heavily tasked at work both mentally and physically, to avoid causing excessive damage to employees' health.

Dubbed the "Chinese Silicon Valley," Shenzhen is home to a number of Chinese tech giants such as Tencent and Huawei. It is no secret that tech companies routinely work long hours, leading to the "996" culture, which refers to working from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm six days a week.

The draft regulation soon ignited heated public debate online, gathering more than 60,000 views, with many speculating it might help relieve work pressure in the city, and offer guidance to solve problems that come with "996 work culture." 

"It does bring some hope. But first of all, will our bosses be able to read this and allow me to enjoy two days off on the weekend for a starter?" wrote one Sina Weibo user.

"What a wonderful idea! But it seems very challenging to implement, as firms are now under huge economic pressure. Paid compulsory leave would only add to the running cost," wrote another.

Some called for the policy to be expanded across the country.

It is hard for internet companies to really follow the rules, as employees might be able to physically leave the office but will still have to work even from home, and office apps are much improved these days due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Liu Dingding, an independent analyst of internet companies who has more than 100,000 followers on Sina Weibo, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

The "996 work culture" is not entirely a bad thing, as those who work overtime make more money and have better chances of promotion, and is a phenomenon that is essentially decided by the market. As competition remains intense in the industry, overtime work for employees is virtually inevitable, he noted.


blog comments powered by Disqus