China’s Interpretation of Weekend: Working on Saturday

It’s Saturday and I’m at work. It’s not because of a backlog of work (although there is that). It’s not because I’m super-keen and ambitious (although I am). I’m at work because it’s an official working day in China.

Not today, it's Saturday!

In reality, it’s called a “Make Up Work Day” as we recently celebrated a holiday. “Golden Week” (or 黄金周) is the half-year break in October to balance out Lunar New Year (or Chinese New Year) usually in February. We reveled in a full seven days off of work. Many colleagues traveled to their home provinces. Lucy brought me peanuts in chili oil from Sichuan.

2015 China Working Calendar

After the holiday comes the make-up – or the “Make-Up Work Day”. There aren’t as many as you’d imagine. Only three in the year.

Yet at Huawei, there’s an additional (optional) working Saturday at the end of each month.

When I first worked in Hong Kong in 1996, it was common practice for every company to be open Monday to Friday, and half-day on Saturday (8:30 am to 1:00 pm). Hong Kong and China moved to a 40 hour work week and abolished the working Saturday. But it stayed on in Huawei culture. The last Saturday of every month is an optional work day.

Here’s the deal: Work a Saturday, get a day off, or, work a Saturday, get bonus pay. At the end of the year HR tallies your work Saturdays. You can choose extra pay (at a 2x normal pay ratio for the day) OR bank an extra vacation day for the upcoming year.


Today is not a bonus day. I don’t get an extra holiday next year. But I do have a day in the office where it’s relatively quiet, I can catch up on administration, I can think slowly about bigger problems. You catch my drift?

The only downside (other than missing family time) is the coming week. One day off doesn’t adequately recharge the batteries. If I’m powering on half-power next week you’ll understand why.

Now, back to work! TGIS (Thank goodness it’s Saturday)!

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