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Daily Digest | 996 never really went away

Written by The Uptake Published on   2 mins read

This week, one voice cut through the noise to bring attention to a problematic practice.

Hey. It’s Brady here.

In 2021, there were a few weeks when the practice of 996 was the subject of a lot of media coverage, both in China and abroad. The work arrangement demands staff to start their days at 9:00 a.m. at the latest, leave at 9:00 p.m. at the earliest, and work a minimum of six days a week. Overtime pay is not a given.

If you’re young and ambitious and eager to climb up the hierarchy in China’s tech scene, then you just had to grind it out, the logic went.

Everyone had an opinion about this, not just those who worked for tech companies. The government stepped in and said 996 was, in fact, illegal, and that bosses could not expect their employees to work their way through grueling schedules.

But that wasn’t the end of it! Sure, every major enterprise released statements to say they would abolish their 996 routines, and some did make small efforts to limit time in the office. But that doesn’t mean workloads were reduced. People still had to meet demanding objectives.

This week, Tencent became the subject of controversy when a young staff member—one who joined the company after graduating from university—aired his displeasure and then resigned. His scathing messages in an internal group chat were shared widely on social media, and 996 is once again a hot topic in China.

The story continued to unfold. Mengyuan wrote about it. You can read her article here.

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