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Chinese Company Introduces Annual ‘Sad Leave’ to Support Employee Well-being

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Fat Dong Lai, a Chinese supermarket chain, has introduced ‘sad leave’, allowing employees up to 10 days off annually without managerial approval, reflecting a shift towards prioritising emotional well-being in the workplace. This innovative policy acknowledges the human need for mental health support, challenging the prevailing ‘hustle culture’ where burnout is common. Founder Yu Dong Lai emphasises the importance of addressing employees’ emotional needs, positioning Fat Dong Lai as a progressive employer.

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The company’s approach extends beyond ‘sad leave’, offering unique customer service perks reminiscent of the renowned Haidilao hotpot chain. Employees work reasonable hours, in contrast to the demanding schedules common in some Chinese companies. Additionally, Fat Dong Lai provides compensation for workplace grievances, demonstrating a commitment to supporting its staff. This employee-centric approach sets a positive example, highlighting the importance of creating a supportive work environment and prioritising mental health.

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Fat Dong Lai’s work culture stands out from the typical 996 schedule in Chinese companies, with employees working seven hours a day, five days a week. This approach contrasts sharply with the demanding 996 schedule, where employees work from 9am to 9pm, six days a week.

Additionally, Fat Dong Lai supports its employees by offering compensation of up to 5,000 yuan for work-related grievances, such as customer insults or threats. This proactive approach to employee well-being sets a positive example, emphasizing the significance of prioritizing mental health and fostering a supportive workplace environment.

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