How Many Hours Do You Work Each Week?

China, like many other countries, has a standard work week of 40 hours. This was not always the case. The 2-day weekend was only officially adopted by the Chinese government in 1995. Before that time, most people worked 6 days a week, 8 hours a day. For anyone working beyond 40 hours, overtime is paid at 1.5 times per hour on a weekday, 2 times on a weekend, and 3 times on a public holiday. These national rules were created with factory workers in mind and vary based on province and local government regulations. What's the reality of a typical work week in China?

 The Alibaba headquarters at night.

The Alibaba headquarters at night.

Many technology companies are following the lead of major American companies like Google and Apple by making the office a comfortable place to work and play as a way of encouraging employees to stay and work longer hours. There is a 996 or 997 culture in these technology companies: work 9am to 9pm 6 or 7 days a week. Incentives provided by the companies include free or cheap food, gyms, places to sleep, and free taxi rides home. These workers are paid with an annual salary and do not receive overtime pay.

At first glance, China has an unbelievable amount of public holidays (29 in 2018). Most holidays are observed on a specific calendar date (lunar or standard, depending on the holiday), rather than "the first Monday of the month". In order to not lose any working days because a holiday falls on a Tuesday, there are "make up days" so that the holiday is still only a 3-day weekend and workers come to the office on a Saturday instead. In the end, China has the same number of working days as many other countries at 250.


This article is part of our new online Chinese course. An efficient way to learn Chinese language for working and living in China.