Chinese short-video app Kuaishou said it would end a controversial weekend work schedule starting from next month, local media reported on Thursday, in a sign that employers are reconsidering extreme schedules like 996. Kuaishou’s current work schedule, known as “big and small weeks,” requires employees to work every other Sunday. Other Chinese tech companies, including ByteDance and Alibaba, also use the schedule for many workers. 

Why it matters: Kuaishou is one of a few Chinese tech companies beginning to cut back long working hours. This ongoing shift comes amid increased scrutiny on tech companies, both from the public and the Chinese government. 

  • Chinese tech firms have faced public outrage for creating a culture that compels employees to work long hours. In 2019, an online protest against the “996” schedule drove a national conversation about overwork. “996” stands for working from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week.

Details: Kuaishou told staff in an email on Thursday that it would stop the “big and small week” schedule starting from July 1, Chinese media Time Weekly reported.

  • The company said in the email that it hopes the changes would bring “more efficiency across the company” and “make staff happier.”
  • The company added that it would compensate employees who work overtime without specifying the pay. Chinese labor law requires companies to pay employees twice their salaries if they work on weekends and three times on national holidays.
  • A Kuaishou representative did not respond to TechNode’s request for confirmation on Wednesday.

READ MORE: Beyond 996: a beginner’s guide to China big tech culture

Context: Kuaishou asked all workers to start working every other Sunday in January, which many viewed as a final sprint for the company’s subsequent plan to go public in Hong Kong. 

  • In January, Kuaishou human resources head Liu Feng told staff in a meeting that longer workweeks would allow “closer cooperation between teams.”
  • Other Chinese tech companies are also cutting back overtime hours. Earlier this month, Lightspeed & Quantum Studios, a Tencent gaming unit, canceled all weekend work schedule and required employees to finish working at 6 p.m. on Wednesdays and no later than 9 p.m. on other days.

Wei Sheng

Wei Sheng is a Beijing-based reporter covering hardware, smartphone, and telecommunications, along with regulations and policies related to the China tech scene. He writes a monthly newsletter tracking...