Software developers for Chinese tech industry detail tough working conditions, long working hours

It’s no secret that many Chinese enterprises have a completely different work ethic than the rest of the world, with many employees working long hours. A recent protest has brought these working circumstances to light, notably among Chinese software professionals.

Workers can contribute to a spreadsheet that outlines working conditions for hundreds of companies as part of a protest called WorkingTime. Developers seeking for work will benefit from the project’s clarity in terms of how many hours of labor are expected at various IT companies.

“Working time is a very crucial aspect in picking an offer,” a project founder said on a Chinese Q&A site, referring to the opacity of working hours in some organizations.

Although the identities of people behind WorkingTime is unknown, their activities have had a significant impact on workers. It has already gotten over ten million views, resulting in thousands of submissions.

The spreadsheet keeps track of how many hours employees work per week. Break information, as well as job descriptions, are also supplied. While some acknowledge a 40-hour workday with incentives like subsidized housing, others have indicated that lengthy work hours are nonetheless common at various companies.

Employees of some of China’s major technology companies, such as Alibaba, Tencent, Huawei, and Bytedance, have contributed to WorkingTime. Global conglomerates such as Dyson, Intel, and IBM are also featured in the initiative.

“I frequently travel for business. I’ve been on the road for the past six weeks. Every night at the customer’s site, I leave after 10 p.m. On weekends, I have to work extra hours. Except for the leaders, the entire department has been working for two years “one of the employees wrote.

“It’s mandatory to keep workers on duty every night,” another person wrote. “It’s also mandatory for all staff to work overtime every Saturday, with no extra pay and working hours beyond 10 hours.” One employee further claims that if his daily workload cannot be accomplished at his workplace, he must work overtime at home.

Many Chinese companies ask their employees to work 72-hour weeks. The schedule, dubbed “996,” has established a work culture in which people labor from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. six days a week. To make matters worse, these extended shifts do not include overtime compensation.

This practice was recently deemed unconstitutional by a Chinese court, which limited overtime to 36 hours per month and mandated compensation for anyone working extra hours. Due to a lack of regulation, the “996” practice continues because independent labor unions are illegal in the region.

South Korea is likewise known for its harsh labor conditions. To fight a culture of working long hours, the country implemented a “shutdown initiative” that limits the number of hours government employees are required to work.

Japan is another country where long working hours are commonplace. Meanwhile, a four-day workweek trial conducted by Microsoft for its employees in Japan resulted in a 40 percent increase in productivity.