Employees at ByteDance woke up on the last day of August to discover a cut in their salary for the first month following the company’s cancellation of “big and small week” work schedules, according to Chinese media on 1 September.
In July, the tech giant announced the end of its “big and small week” policy where most of its staff are required to work six days a week (big week) and five days in the week after (small week). Workers on this schedule work 20 more days a year than those who have a normal five-day working week. The new policy intended to fix the “work-life balance” took effect on 1 August.
All staff members saw their salary reduced by different rates, with an average cut of 17%, one employee told AI Finance and Economics, a Chinese news media.
The “big and small week” policy together with the controversial 996 work schedule (9 am to 9 pm, six days a week), which was endorsed by Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, have been widely adopted by Chinese tech companies.
However, the overtime work policy has faced a series of cancellations from big companies recently partly due to public criticism following the death of workers at tech companies. ByteDance’s rival Kuaishou, the short-video platform abandoned its “big and small week” working rota in July. In June, Tencent introduced Healthy Wednesdays when employees are required to get off work at 6 pm on Wednesdays, and overtime work on other weekdays cannot be later than 9 pm.
The intense work culture has been further hampered after China’s High Court ruled 996 work schedules illegal in late August.
Public reactions to this move have been divided. Some are being supportive saying it is reasonable now that working days have been reduced. While others complain that workers are now worse off as they are dealing with the same amount of workload while being paid less.