Shanghai political advisor proposes legislation on ‘996’ overtime and work-related injury insurance for deliverymen
Published: Jan 24, 2021 06:58 PM

This file photo shows an office of Pinduoduo in East China's Shanghai. Photo: Xinhua

A Shanghai political advisor has proposed improving legislation on the "996" overtime work culture, the establishment of a scientific system and standard for the identification of "death from overwork," and insuring deliverymen and couriers against work-related injuries.

"996" refers to working from 9 am to 9 pm six days a week, a culture that is especially prevalent in China's tech sector. 

Lu Jingbo, a lawyer from the River Delta Law Firm who also serves as a member of the Shanghai Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the city's top political advisory body, put forward several proposals on Saturday on improving legislation on overtime, identification of overwork death and definition of work-related injuries. 

The sudden death of a Pinduoduo employee after apparent excessive overtime on December 29, 2020 stirred heated discussions on the tech sector's "996" work schedule, which violates China's labor law. 

However, Lu pointed out that China's current labor law places limited restrictions on overtime. He proposed clearly defining working hours such as meetings, lunch breaks, and training hours, which are difficult to define under current labor law but could result in labor disputes. 

Furthermore, most "overwork deaths" are difficult to identify as work-related injuries, according to the regulation on work-related injury insurance which defines work-related injuries as being caused by accidents. This makes it difficult to determine the employers' responsibility, Lu said in his proposal. 

Lu proposed establishing scientific identification and standards of "overwork death" and confirming this liability through legislation. 

An deliveryman who set himself on fire on January 11 over a payment dispute with a part-time job platform illustrates another challenge to new labor relations in the new economy. 

Lu proposed that people in new forms of employment covered by work-related injury insurance in the form of local legislation or normative documents, a practice that has already begun in South China's Guangdong, East China's Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces in recent years, can serve as reference for Shanghai to follow.