'996' working schedule banned for violating the law in latest joint guideline by ministries
Published: Aug 26, 2021 11:07 PM
A female employee is working overtime at her desk. Photo: VCG

A female employee is working overtime at her desk. Photo: VCG

The Supreme People's Court (SPC) of China and the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security recently jointly released a guideline illustrating 10 typical cases of overtime work, stipulating that the "996" overtime work policy is illegal. Two departments formulated legal standards for the disputes regarding working shifts systems, overtime compensations, paid holidays and workers' rights and interests.

There have been calls in China to ban the "996" work schedule, where employees are encouraged to work from 9 am to 9 pm six days a week,  as mandatory overtime culture has swept through many technology businesses, including companies in the online services and e-commerce sectors.

The two departments said overtime work in some industries has attracted widespread attention recently. Workers are entitled to remuneration, rest and vacation in accordance with the law and it is the legal obligation of employers to abide by the national working hour system, said the departments.

Overtime work would bring labor disputes and affect the harmony of labor relations and social stability. Therefore, the two departments attached great importance to this issue and decided to strengthen the procedures for arbitration organs and people's courts in handling cases, and unify the standards of adjudication, according to the joint guideline. 

The two departments jointly released typical cases to the public to remind employers of the risks of illegal behavior and guide workers to rationally protect their rights according to the law.

According to China's Labor Law, the standard working period is eight hours per day and a maximum of 44 work hours per week.

The disclosed case on a parcel delivery company showed that the business' "996" regulation seriously violated the provisions of the law on the maximum limit of allowed working hours, making it invalid. In this case, Zhang, an employee who was fired for refusing to work overtime, eventually got a compensation of 8,000 yuan ($1,233).