TikTok executive said companies ‘shouldn’t offer maternity leave’: report

Nearly two dozen ticked-off TikTok employees at the company’s London office quit en masse over strenuous work conditions that reportedly included an executive saying he didn’t think firms should offer their workers maternity leave.

Joshua Ma, who heads e-commerce at TikTok Europe for ByteDance — the parent company for the Chinese-owned social media app — told London-based staffers this year that as a “capitalist,” he “didn’t believe” companies should offer their employees paid leave after giving birth, Financial Times reported.

Ma’s comments further alienated staffers in London who said that ByteDance’s hard-charging corporate culture that was brought over from China clashed with the more lenient office settings that workers in the United Kingdom are accustomed to.

About half of the 40 employees who worked on the e-commerce team known as “TikTok Shop” have quit the London office since it was opened earlier this year, according to FT.

Half of the e-commerce team at TikTok’s London office quit after an executive said he didn’t believe companies should offer maternity leave, according to a report.
SOPA Images/LightRocket via Gett

Others told the publication that they were on the verge of quitting, while two employees were paid settlements over working conditions, it was reported.

Workers on the e-commerce side said they were routinely expected to work more than 12 hours per day, starting early in the morning in order to accommodate calls with China, according to FT.

“There are people leaving every week, it is like a game every Monday we ask who has been fired, who has quit,” one individual currently employed at the firm said.

A TikTok spokesperson told The Post that Tiktok “has a clear maternity leave policy in the UK” that includes 30 weeks of paid leave during which time workers receive an average of 90% of their earnings.

The company also offers nine weeks with statutory maternity pay and an additional 13 weeks of unpaid leave, the spokesperson said.

“We are investigating alleged statements and actions to determine whether there has been a breach of company policies,” the spokesperson told The Post.

A TikTok spokesperson said the company offers its employees 30 weeks of paid maternity leave in the UK. The above stock image is unrelated to TikTok.
A TikTok spokesperson said the company offers its employees 30 weeks of paid maternity leave in the UK. The above stock image is unrelated to TikTok.
Getty Images

Ma reportedly made the comments while visiting TikTok Shop in London — the first e-commerce initiative set up by the social media company outside of Asia.

TikTok Shop allows brands and influencers to broadcast live on TikTok where they sell products through a clickable orange basket on the screen — not dissimilar to QVC shopping channel in the United States.

FT reported that TikTok has launched an investigation into Ma’s alleged comments.

A TikTok spokesperson told The Post that workers were at times asked to work longer hours to “match customer use patterns” though the firm says it wants to make this the “exception, rather than the norm.”

London-based staffers said the burdensome workload at the company made them sick.

“The culture is really toxic,” a former London-based team leader told FT.

“Relationships there are built on fear, not co-operation.”

The former team leader added: “They don’t care about burnout because it is such a big company, they can just replace you. They coast on the TikTok brand.”

Workers also complained they were forced to hit “unrealistic targets.” Those who didn’t meet company expectations were singled out and reprimanded on the internal communications board, according to FT.

A TikTok spokesperson told The Post: “TikTok Shop has only been operating in the UK for a few months, and we’re investing rapidly in expanding the resources, structures and process to support a positive employee experience.”

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