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China: Ten Typical Cases on Overtime-related Disputes

The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (“MOHRSS”) and the Supreme People’s Court jointly released the Second Batch of Typical Labor Dispute Cases and openly commented on ten typical cases about overtime disputes. The judicial rules that are further clarified in these cases mainly include that (1) employees can legally refuse overtime work arranged beyond the maximum working hours allowed by law; (2) employees’ advanced waiver of overtime pay in writing is invalid; (3) the facts of employees’ overtime cannot be denied by provisions in employer’s internal policy or employees’ failure of fulfilling approval procedures in accordance with employer’s internal policy; (4) the employer and employees shall bear respective burden of proof in the process of resolving overtime disputes; and (5) overtime pay is labor remuneration in nature and, from a statute of limitation perspective, the limitation period for overtime claims shall be one year commencing from the termination of employment. These typical cases are expected to remind employers of the risk of illegal behavior and promote employers to standardize employment according to the law, and also clarify employees’ expectation when protecting their rights and guide employees to rationally protect their rights through lawful channels.

Key Action Points for Human Resources and In-house Counsel 

The 996 Mode refers to working from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and for six days a week. The 996 Mode is commonly adopted by high-tech and internet companies in China. The MOHRSS and the Supreme Court’s release of typical cases on overtime disputes are believed to regulate these employers’ illegal extension of working hours and protect employees’ rights of rest and to be sufficiently compensated with overtime pay.