Banner in Chinese with the message "Only when everyone is working overtime, is it real overtime. Overtime is great!"
Red Star News/Weibo screenshot
  • Photos of Inspur's banners celebrating overtime work have gone viral online, prompting backlash.
  • That's spurred a probe over whether the company violated labour laws.
  • The developments come as China is cracking down on the country's "996" work culture.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

A tech company in China has come under intense scrutiny and backlash for displaying banners in the office that celebrate overtime work.

Shandong-based Inspur Group has reportedly hung red banners in its workplace with slogans such as "Only when everyone is working overtime, is it real overtime. Overtime is great!"

The company also hung banners saying, "He works overtime, I do too. No one can escape," and "If you have time, go work overtime."

Several Inspur employees confirmed to Chengdu Media Group's Red Star News that the banners do indeed exist and that not only are staff not compensated for the extra time clocked, the number of overtime work hours is also a KPI in annual staff appraisals.

Photos of the banners have gone viral online, prompting backlash, with "How to view companies encouraging overtime" becoming a hot hashtag on social media platform Weibo, a Twitter-like service in China.

One employee told Red Star News that even putting in 600 extra hours a year would still mean you rank at the bottom of the list for overtime hours clocked.

The online outrage and photos have spurred local authorities in Jinan to investigate whether any labour laws have been violated, reported Jimu News, a news outlet in the Hubei province.

A banner celebrating overtime work at the Inspur Group office in China.
Red Star Media/Weibo screenshot

The developments come as China is cracking down on the country's so-called "996" work culture, where staff work from 9am to 9pm six days a week, making work-life balance extremely difficult. The schedule is particularly widespread in Chinese tech companies. The intense work culture has affected China's consumption and the country's birth rate. 

In August, China's top court and the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security released guidelines and examples spelling out what constitutes labour violations and unreasonable overtime.

Workers are pushing back against the punishing practice too. Just last month, an online campaign urged Chinese workers to boycott the "996" work culture.

Chinese state media — which often reflects official thinking — has weighed in on the most recent controversy involving Inspur's overtime slogans.

"Most employees hope to leave work on time to spend time with their families, take part in fitness and entertainment activities, or take up hobbies to alleviate the day's fatigue," China Central Television (CCTV) said in an online post.

CCTV went on to call Inspur's banners the "epitome of abnormal overtime culture" and "even more so, a disregard of laws and regulations."

Inspur did not respond immediately to Insider's request for comment.

Get the best of our site emailed to you every weekday.


Go to the Business Insider front page for more stories.