China's top court bans overtime work culture

China's top court is cracking down down on "996".

That's what some call the work culture of 'encouraged overtime' common among Chinese tech firms, meaning working 9am, to 9pm, six days a week.

China's Supreme People's Court now says that's illegal.

On Thursday the court and the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security published guidelines and examples on what constitutes overtime work.

Some companies jumped ahead of authorities: ByteDance, the owner of TikTok, formally ended its weekend overtime policy on August 1, two weeks after its rival Kuaishou announced a similar decision.

The court and ministry's criticism of hustle culture at tech giants, also comes amid wider regulatory crackdowns in China on a range of issues, from monopolistic behaviour to consumer rights.

Backlash against "996" bubbled up in 2019, when a group of programmers and coders launched an online protest against the practice.

Some coding platforms became home for workers to swap stories of excessive overtime demands at their companies.

In the same year, Chinese state media said "996" violated labour laws, which mandate an average working week of 44 hours.

Though for some companies and employees, working "996" is a badge of honor, and Silicon Valley heavyweights like Sequoia Capital's Mike Moritz have labelled it a competitive advantage for China, over the United States.

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