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2021-12-31 08:55:00

Chinese short video platform Kuaishou has slashed some staff benefits, while offering childbirth subsidies in a move the company says could improve the work-life balance amid growing complaints over extended work hours at tech companies.

Kuaishou said it will adjust rental subsidies offered to staff members and end free daily meal plans starting February 2022, Sixth Tone’s sister publication The Paper reported, citing an internal memo sent to staff Thursday. Instead, the tech company said it will offer up to 3,000 yuan ($470) bonus to new parents, underscoring measures both the government and other entities are introducing to boost the country’s plummeting birth rate.

“(We) hope the adjustment can enable employees to have better work-life balance and respond to the various challenges of the current times,” a Kuaishou representative told The Paper.

However, some Kuaishou employees complained about the shrinking benefits and changes to rental subsidies on LinkedIn-like networking app Maimai. The new policy offers housing benefits to staff with less than three years of working experience and for accommodation within 5 kilometers from the workplace.

“I think the rental subsidies policy is like a trap,” one Maimai user wrote. “It has inflated the rent of qualified housing ... and living close to the company makes it really convenient to work overtime.”

Chinese tech companies are known for a tradeoff: generous benefits packages and extreme overtime cultures. The most famous such schedule is “996,” or 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week. The overtime schedule, which has been blamed for contributing to the death of some employees, has faced severe public backlash, with the country’s top court ruling the practice illegal.

Responding to growing criticism earlier this year, Kuaishou, along with other tech firms such as ByteDance and Meituan, said they would limit overtime and weekend work.

The benefits adjustments come as Kuaishou Technology, the Hong Kong-listed company that operates the short video platform, reported 33% revenue growth for the third quarter this year, with its net losses narrowing to 7.1 billion yuan from 29 billion yuan the same period last year. Kuaishou, like several other major Chinese tech firms, planned to lay off some staff by the end of the year, The Paper reported earlier this month.

Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

(Header image: People Visual)