I’ve seen lots of people talking about the 996 phenomenon in the news recently, so I thought maybe some of you would want to learn how to talk about it in English, and also my own personal opinion about why it happens. Well, to start with, let’s figure out what 996 actually stands for.
996 means that someone must work from 9:00am to 9:00pm (or “9 to 9”), 6 days a week.
Unfortunately, there is no “easy” way to say this in English. Chinese have this “996” phrase, because recently it happens here too much. Luckily, we haven’t had this problem in the west (yet), so we have no expression for this. If we need to talk about it, we would really have to “explain” it, like I did above.
- Poor Mary, she has to work from 9 to 9, 6 days a week. She only gets Sunday off.
- Did you hear about Paul? He had a heart attack because he was working 12 hours a day, with only one day off a week.
- Tyrel’s family left him because he spent more time at work than at home. I guess that’s what happens when you spend 12 hours a day at work and only rest once a week.
So why don’t we have this kind of schedule in America? I don’t study business, so I’m not sure. But if I were to guess, I would say because of overtime pay.
Think about it:
9am to 9pm = 12 hours.
12 hours x 6 days = 72 hours.
72 hours x 4 weeks = 288 hours.
288 hours x salary = rich!!!!
早上9点 到 晚上9点 = 12小时。
12小时 x 6天 = 72小时。
72小时 x 4周 = 288小时。
288小时 x 工资 = 富有！！！
But many of my Chinese friends have told me they don’t get paid overtime, even if they work almost double the hours. So some bosses or companies might take advantage of that and make their employees do a lot of extra work – for free.
In America, for most jobs (but not all), even if we WANT to work overtime, we usually can’t. But why?
It’s because the government can be pretty strict about overtime. If anyone works more than 40 hours, they will get paid at least 1.5 to 2 times more than their normal salary. For example, Maranda usually makes $10 an hour, but as soon as she hits 41 hours, she will making $15 or $20 an hour. So if a company is trying to save money, they can do that by NOT letting their employees work overtime – if they worked overtime, they would have to pay them more money, see?
Anyway, in my opinion, it is the “overtime pay” situation that has led to the “12 hours a day, 6 days a week” problem. Companies wouldn’t allow their employees to work 72 hours a week if they had to pay them for overtime! What do you think? Do you think I’m right, or is there an entirely different reason I am missing? I look forward to hearing your thoughts! For now, Cya!