Alibaba pumps up employee perks to ‘warm hearts’ after a tough year of regulatory crackdown

Alibaba employees are given additional time-off to visit families and care for newborns
Big Tech firms in China face pressure to address the industry’s brutal work schedule known as 996
Alibaba Group Holding has sweetened its employee benefits by offering more paid time-off, bigger allowances and flexible work schedules to boost morale after a challenging year that saw the company weather tightened regulatory scrutiny, fierce competition and a plunge in share price.

The newly launched “heart-warming” package by the Hangzhou-based e-commerce giant includes seven days of fully-paid annual leave for family reunions, 10 additional leave days for new parents to care for babies, and 20 days of one-off holiday for staff who have at least 10 years of service.

Employees are now allowed to work from home one day a week.

The company has also raised its annual team-building budget to between 1,200 yuan (US$188) and 1,800 yuan per person from the previous range of 800 yuan to 1,200 yuan. A new monthly transport allowance of up to 1,200 yuan has also been introduced.

“We may never be able to provide the best welfare coverage, but we are always willing to try to be better,” Alibaba, owner of the South China Morning Post, said in a statement published Tuesday night on its official WeChat account.

Alibaba, which employs more than a quarter-million people, has been known for its hard-driving culture. Founder Jack Ma once said publicly that the company’s philosophy was to “hire three people to do five people’s jobs while paying them four people’s salaries”.

In return for the heavy hours that employees put in, Alibaba has typically offered staff benefits beyond the legal requirement, including physical exams for the parents of employees.

The latest perks offered by Alibaba come as Big Tech firms in China are under pressure to address public scrutiny of the industry’s brutal work schedule known as 996 – 9am to 9pm, six days a week.

ByteDance, owner of popular short-video platform TikTok, ended in August its “big week, small week” rotation that had required employees to work a six-day week every fortnight. Game developer Lightspeed & Quantum Studios, a subsidiary of Tencent Holdings, announced in June a new policy requiring employees to go home before 6pm on Wednesdays.

Author: Jane Zhang, SCMP

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