China Working Hours

Employees in China routinely work unpaid overtime. What are your rights as a worker in China regarding working hours and overtime?


Standard working hours in China are eight hours a day and 44 hours a week. Overtime shall be paid at 150 percent of the basic wage on a regular day, 200 percent on a rest day (such as Saturday or Sunday), and 300 percent on a national holiday.

Officially, overtime isn't paid with time off. If an employee works 11 hours, they should be paid for 8 at the basic rate and 3 at the overtime rate. Overtime shouldn't exceed 3 hours every day or 36 per month.

Three Systems, One Country

Chinese labor regulations realize that the eight-hour-a-day, 44-hour-a-week Standard Working Hour System is not realistic for every job and sector. China's employers may utilize two alternative systems.

The Flexible Working Hour System enables companies and workers to build a system where hours are computed weekly or monthly for sales leaders, senior management, and drivers. Final hours worked must be as close to 44 as feasible. It's illegal to pay a fixed monthly payment regardless of hours performed. With this strategy, a company isn't obligated to pay overtime, but must guarantee employees have "adequate time off"

The Comprehensive Working Hour System applies to transportation, construction, and tourism. Under this approach, a worker's hours are tallied weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually. Again, daily and weekly averages should be similar to the conventional method. Employers may require employees to work any number of hours every day without overtime compensation as long as the overall number of hours doesn't surpass the cycle's limit.

An employer intending to use the Flexible Working Hour System or Comprehensive Working Hour System must have local labor authority clearance.


Many Chinese enterprises flout labor rules and create their own systems. Chinese enterprises sometimes make workers redeem overtime by coming in late or leaving early on subsequent days instead of paying them the extra rate.

By law, a factory's CEO and line workers must be paid hourly. Since this is impractical, most Chinese enterprises establish their own method, which isn't always legal.

In the worst circumstances, especially in less formal sectors like construction and service, workers may be compelled to work overtime without pay. Some employees without a formal contract may not be paid until a project is finished or the Lunar New Year, when Chinese people typically settle accounts.


When corporations flout labor regulations, as is frequent in China, they risk dissatisfied workers claiming overtime compensation after resigning or being fired. Non-compliant companies may be penalized for unpaid overtime, interest, and penalties. China's labor regulators are harsh on offenders, especially foreign-owned companies.

Employee Cards

Before signing a contract in China, find out how the employer measures hours and overtime. Mentioning some of the following systems will show an employer you're knowledgeable. If your prospective employer proposes a non-standard approach, such as time off instead of overtime compensation, you may agree or not. As such an arrangement won't be in your job contract and isn't theoretically legal, the reality may be different. You may sue your employer if necessary. If you believe a relocation is possible, document any unpaid extra hours. It's preferable to start with a legal system.

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