Newsletter Q3 2021
Newsletter Q3 2021
Recovery and advancement -- Find out about how the recruitment market in Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand are recovering from the COVID-hit economic downfall in this edition of the Gemini newsletter, and find out about the Chinese Government is looking to end the “996” working culture in China. We have an important announcement from our HR consulting division, we are set to launch an AI-driven career pathing talent experience platform where employee reskilling and upskilling meets artificial intelligence. All in this edition of the Gemini newsletter! Please scroll down to read the content!

- HR Digitisation in Asia -

- Remodeling the working culture? -

- Light at the end of the tunnel -

- Thailand is back in business! -

Hong Kong - China - Singapore - Thailand
No end in sight for China’s border restrictions

For many foreign workers in China, and for those who are looking to return either for employment, business travel or family reunion, the travel restrictions on entry to China currently show no signs of ending.

Since the 28th March 2020, China has placed strict control on traveller’s both foreign and local to entering China, with mandatory quarantine of up to 3 or 4 weeks currently in place for anyone who wishes to enter China.

For the past 18 months, foreigners living and working in China have regularly speculated about when these restrictions would be eased or lifted entirely. Many have remained in China since before the start of Covid-19, which meant missed important family events such as Christmas and other festivals last year. As we enter the 4th quarter of 2021, it is obvious to all in China, that a normal trip back home to visit friends and family before the end of the year is impossible without the need to quarantine for at least 3 weeks upon return to China.

China has implemented a very stringent set of measures and restrictions whenever even a single case of Covid-19 is detected anywhere within its borders. This can include mass testing of the local population, mandatory lockdowns and quarantines and restrictions of travel to and from the affected areas.

China’s “Zero-Covid” strategy is in stark contrast to how many countries are handling the virus, and has allowed for a relatively normal way of life for most people in China since early 2020. The challenge remains as to how China can balance this strategy at the same time as not damaging the economy by closing off to the rest of the world.

It is this balancing act which is leading some foreigners to consider their own personal strategies – to remain in China without leaving for potentially another couple of years, or taking the risk and going home, knowing that they may not be able to return.

Is China moving away from the 996 work culture?

Recent rulings by China’s top courts and labour ministry have signalled a willingness to end the widely used practice of ‘996’ work-culture in some major tech companies in China.

996, which was famously described as a ‘blessing’ by China’s leading entrepreneur Jack Ma, is the culture of working 9 am to 9 pm, 6 days per week. Whilst it is loved by many Chinese businesses, it is a practice that is often hated by their employees, who feel compelled to follow the grueling work schedule for fear of losing their job or promotion opportunities.

At the end of August, a ruling was made on 10 cases brought concerning labour disputes, mostly related to overtime working, the outcome of these cases were all found in favour of the employees.

The notice that was released following these decisions stated, “Legally, workers have the right to corresponding compensation and rest times or holidays. Complying with national working hours is the obligation of employers”

Whilst this latest news isn’t expected to end the 996 culture overnight, it does appear to show there is some willingness to curb the excessive overtime culture that pervades inside many Chinese tech companies.

Earlier this year two employees at the e-commerce platform, Pinduoduo sadly died, one of who committed suicide whilst the other collapsed on the way home after working long hours.

Whilst it is unclear if these two deaths are connected to their working schedule, it has led to a lot of discussion on social media in China concerning the pressure on people to work such long hours.

These stories have helped strengthen public opinion against this working culture, and with the desire for businesses to provide support for employees who are seeking a better work/life balance and more time with their families.

Whilst some people online remain skeptical if things will start to change, others believe that with the recent spotlight on China’s big-tech companies from Beijing, these businesses will feel the pressure to provide a better working environment for their staff.

Smartphone manufacturer Vivo has recently made such a move, by ending their practice of alternating five and six-day working weeks and have given all employees a 2-day weekend as standard. Vivo said in an online post, "From now on, we are people who will have full weekends! Let's work towards creating a happy and progressive environment for our workers."

It is hoped that the end of this culture will also support the government’s other recent priority – for better quality family life, and the government's desire for larger families with the recent three-child policy announcement.

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