tiktok owner bytedance to expand leave offering to china employees in work culture shift

TikTok owner ByteDance said it is giving employees more paid leave, after China’s most valuable unicorn faced repeated criticisms over its workplace culture and treatment of staff.

Employees will soon be entitled to 10 working days off to take care of sick family members, the Beijing-based company announced on Wednesday on its WeChat account. The maximum length of paid sick leave will increase from eight to 12 days, while bereavement leave will increase by two days.

Sick leave will cover doctors’ visits, as well as health checks and vaccination, according to the notice.

The new leave policy will take effect between October and November for mainland-based staff, according to an internal email to employees seen by the Post. ByteDance said the changes show its willingness to make improvements that are “meaningful to everyone’s work and life”.

The expanded leave offerings will bring ByteDance’s policy more in line with those of global peers, which are often legally obliged to provide more generous employee benefits than available in companies in China.

In Beijing, for example, working mothers are legally entitled to a minimum of 158 days of maternity leave, compared with 52 weeks in London.

A senior ByteDance executive angered London staff earlier this year when he said he “didn’t believe” companies should offer maternity leave, according to a Financial Times report in June. Divergent expectations between management and employees over working hours also contributed to a staff exodus, the report said.

In China, employees interviewed by the Post said demanding deadlines and targets were just part of the usual business routine, with some saying that they often stayed up until the late-night hours to get things done.

The company also used to require employees to work six-day weeks every fortnight, before that policy was cancelled last August.

Despite its fast-paced culture and high-pressure environment, ByteDance, known as one of the “big factories” in China’s technology industry, was once seen by many young jobseekers as an attractive employer that offered competitive packages and promotion prospects.

As the sector continues to grapple with tightened regulations and a slumping economy, however, Big Tech companies in the country have started to lose some of their shine.

In the second quarter, social media and video gaming giant Tencent Holdings trimmed its workforce for the first time since 2014, cutting nearly 5,500 jobs from its headcount. During the same period, e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding, owner of the Post, laid off nearly 10,000 employees.

ByteDance, which remains private, has slashed hundreds of jobs from its video gaming unit, sources told the Post earlier this month. ByteDance chief executive Liang Rubo told employees last month that the company planned to reduce input into noncore businesses, according to a report by Chinese media outlet LatePost.

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