Why a '4-Day Week' Job Offer in China Went Viral

By Alistair Baker-Brian, May 23, 2023

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A company in the city of Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province in eastern China recently went viral after advertising a ‘4-day week’ job.  

Wuyao – a creative agency set up in February of this year – said it received “thousands” of resumes from applicants, seemingly attracted by the offer of four days of work and three days off per week.

On Weibo, a hashtag related to the job advert has been viewed more than 100 million times. 

In an interview with Qianjiang Video, Wuyao founder and legal representative, Lou Fei, said that employees enjoy days off on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.

However, not all is quite as it seems. 

According to Lou, employees should still be prepared to complete relevant work tasks and should “not be distant from work” during days off. 

Confused? 

Perhaps what Lou meant to say was that employees were only required to be in the office four days per week, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t have to complete tasks on your days at home. 

Lou said that many applicants withdrew their applications once they got a more accurate picture of the job. 

She admitted that the mention of a ‘4-day week’ in the job advert was something of an "experiment" – an experiment that gained attention and helped continue a national conversation about work-life balance. 

China, as a country that until recently was known for the dreaded ‘996’ schedule (nine hours per day, six days per week), now appears to be moving in a direction more favorable towards the rights of employees. 

Among other reasons, concerns with overtime culture have been raised due to cases like that of the tech worker in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, who died following a long shift…

READ MORE: Death of Tech Worker Renews Concerns Over '996' Work Culture

… and the employee in Fujian Province who found himself “unable to open his right eye.” 

READ MORE: Man Works So Much Overtime That He Can't Open His Eyes

In March 2021, China’s highest court ruled ‘996’ work schedules to be illegal. The ruling also noted that overtime should be limited to no more than three hours per day and no more than 36 hours per month. 

According to the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, the law on working hours introduced in 1995 stipulates that employees’ working schedules should be no more than eight hours per day and no more than 40 hours per week. 

In February 2022, Trip.com announced that it would implement a hybrid working model, allowing employees to work from home during set times.

READ MORE: Trip.com to Implement Work From Home in China

It remains to be seen if other big employers in the Middle Kingdom follow suit. 

Some parts of the world appear to be shifting towards a 4-day work week (for real, not just an experiment in a job ad); a 6-month trial in the UK – run by non-profit group 4 Day Week Global and think tank Autonomy – included nearly 3,000 workers at 61 companies and ran from June to December 2022. 

According to the results of the experiment, 92% of the companies said they will implement the 4-day work week on a permanent basis. Reasons include high performance and productivity, as well as increased revenue and lower staff turnover, reports CNBC

A 4-day work week might still be a rarity in China. However, Wuyao’s little ‘experiment’ shows it’s a topic that many people won’t shy away from discussing. 


[Cover image via Pixabay]

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