CHINA’S richest man worth £24.4billion says employees should work 12-hour days, 6 days a week.
Alibaba founder and executive chairman Jack Ma was passionately defending the gruelling hours that have become the norm in the country’s tech and internet industry.
The 996 routine refers to working 9am to 9pm, 6 days a week.
Speaking at an internal event on Thursday, Ma described the schedule as a “huge blessing that many companies and employees do not have the opportunity to have”.
“If you do not do 996 when you are young, when will you?” he asked.
“Do you think never having to work 996 in your life is an honour to boast about?” he said.
If you join Alibaba, you should get ready to work 12 hours a day, otherwise why do you come to Alibaba? We do not need those who comfortably work 8 hours
Jack Ma, Alibaba founder
Ma was responding to the perceived lack of work-life balance among Chinese high tech workers, arguing that tech giants such as Alibaba and Tencent could not have grown without employees working long hours.
“If you join Alibaba, you should get ready to work 12 hours a day, otherwise why do you come to Alibaba?” he said in remarks posted on the company’s WeChat account.
“We do not need those who comfortably work 8 hours.”
China’s richest man, Jack Ma, has described the opportunity to work gruelling overtime as a ‘huge blessing’
Alibaba did not immediately respond to a request for further comment on Jack Ma’s views when approached by the South China Morning Post.
The former English teacher has previously described himself as an “accidental entrepreneur” after founding multinational technology conglomerate Alibaba in 1999 – subsequently becoming one of the world’s most powerful people.
His words came amid a growing resentment among workers expected to prove their dedication while firms deal with the country’s worst economic slowdown in nearly three decades.
Last month, a group of software developers took to the code-hosting platform Github to protest against the 996 schedule, the Post reports.
They said that working that schedule would run the risk of ending up in an “intensive care unit”, attaching a copy of China’s labour law that prohibits more than 36 hours of overtime per month.