title: SHEIN exploratory research May 2022
# An Exploratory Research on the Labor Conditions in Warehouse Suppliers for SHEIN
This research looks at SHEIN, a China-based “fast fashion” brand whose products are manufactured in China and exported to overseas markets. Inspired by recent reports on the labor conditions of garment manufacturers for SHEIN[^shein], this research intends to explore in more depth the labor conditions of SHEIN’s ultra-fast fashion business model. This research focuses on SHEIN’s logistics contractors, particularly the warehouses that store and dispatch SHEIN products, rather than on the garment manufacturing side.
[^shein]: For example, [The Shady Labor Practices Underpinning Shein’s Global Fashion Empire](https://www.sixthtone.com/news/1008472/the-shady-labor-practices-underpinning-sheins-global-fashion-empire) by Sixth Tone and [Toiling away for Shein: Looking behind the shiny façade of the Chinese “ultra-fast fashion” giant](https://stories.publiceye.ch/en/shein/) by Public Eye.
The research mainly draws from materials that are available online. Working conditions are deduced from these online materials. As such, this report may serve as a starting point for a more detailed and rigorous investigation of the warehouse suppliers of SHEIN.
This research is mainly based on information available online: primarily job postings and social media posts by current and past employees, and recruitment intermediaries.
Use of recruitment intermediaries by logistics suppliers results in an abundance of job postings on social media, particularly on WeChat and Douyin. However, it is unclear how much truth these job posts contain. It’s not uncommon for social media users - those who claim to be working or have worked in the past at SHEIN’s logistics warehouses - to have accounts that contest the claims of job recruiters, especially on wage levels. Employees or former employees have posted about their lives on the job, or have confronted recruiters regarding the validity of the information contained in the job ads. In this research, working conditions in the warehouses are deduced from the information contained in the posts as well as their comment sections.
Through Douyin, we had conversations with 5 past and current employees as well, but no structured interviews were conducted. We should keep in mind the findings remain to be verified through future in-depth interviews with workers.
## List of warehouses
At the time of inquiry, a total of 10 warehouses were found to be hiring, either currently or in the past. One was yet to begin operations, starting recruitment in May 2022, according to recruiters. Most of the warehouses were located in either Foshan or Zhaoqing, close to SHEIN headquarters and its suppliers in Guangzhou. Other than one warehouse in Nansha District, Guangzhou, reportedly a returns warehouse, there seemed to be little difference in function between most warehouses.
All of the warehouses appear to be owned by a third-party warehouse provider: their addresses included the name of a warehouse company. These warehouse company names were visibly posted outside those warehouses, as found on site images. However, it was clear that the warehouses are primarily engaged in SHEIN-related activities - both employees and recruiters were aware that these were SHEIN-hired warehouses, and all online job postings state that they are looking for “SHEIN warehouses workers”. Whether SHEIN manages the warehouses directly, or through warehouse management services provided by the warehouse owner, is yet to be confirmed.
*Fig. 1 Recruitment video for SHEIN warehouse shows the site of a Prologis facility in Sanshui, Foshan. (Captured from Douyin video: https://v.douyin.com/F5kCmqT/)*
*Fig. 2 Recruitment video for SHEIN warehouse shows the site in Nansha International Logistics Park, Guangzhou. (Captured from Douyin video: https://v.douyin.com/F5kPVEC/)*
Note that the suppliers include some of the largest companies in the sector, even some industry leaders. Prologis China, for example, is the Chinese subsidiary of the international warehouse solution provider Prologis, and has a total of 194 facilities across China. Dongbai Group, a Chinese listed company focused on warehouse leasing & operating, publicly claimed that SHEIN is an “important customer” renting and using their warehouse services[^dongbai].
[^dongbai]:东百集团：SHEIN（希音）是公司仓储物流业务的重要合作客户. (2021, June 2). 163 news https://www.163.com/dy/article/GBGO2DML0519QIKK.html.
| City | Location | Owner of Facility | External Link |
| --------- | -------- | ----------------- | ------------- |
| Guangzhou | Nansha Guangzhou bonded port area| Guangzhou Nansha International Logistics Park Development Co., Ltd|[Job ad](https://v.douyin.com/FP6k1Cu/) |
| Guangzhou | Guangzhou International Airport R&F Integrated Logistics Park| DRAGONCOR LOGISTICS|[Job ad](https://v.douyin.com/NQeWxhy/) <br/> <br/> [Official Introduction](http://www.gzrflp.com.cn/PSabout/overview.html)|
| Foshan | Prologis Foshan Datang Logistics Center| Prologis|[Job ad](https://v.douyin.com/NQdQcaN/) <br/> <br/> [Official Brochure](https://prologis.getbynder.com/m/7d5ef257403f28ea/original/Prologis-Foshan-Datang-Logistics-Center-210709.pdf)|
| Foshan | Prologis Foshan Gaoming Logistics Center|Prologis|[Job ad 1](https://v.douyin.com/NQ8efEQ/) <br/> <br/> [Job ad 2](https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/HSbgvx14j4S7MXjLZdTfrg) <br/> <br/> [Official Brochure](https://prologis.getbynder.com/m/76088d8b5e93592a/original/Prologis-Foshan-Gaoming-Logistics-Center-211026.pdf)|
| Foshan | Dongbai Foshan Sanshui Logistics Centre|Dongbai China|[Job ad](https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/qyO7lj4s69cTPbykNu25iw) <br/> <br/> [Official Introduction (in Chinese)](https://www.dongbai.com/logistics_view.aspx?id=41) <br/> <br/> [Official Statement on Partnership with SHEIN](https://www.163.com/dy/article/GBGO2DML0519QIKK.html)|
| Foshan| New Ease China Logistics Park, Gaoming District, Foshan | New Ease |[Job ad](https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/qM9ejkR0TmqxSfDXjnlk0Q) <br/> <br/> [Official Introduction](https://newease-preprod.dev.arestos.com/portfolio-items/foshan-gaoming/)|
| Zhaoqing | GLP Dawang Logistics Centre|GLP|[Job ad](https://v.douyin.com/FPFbVkc/) <br/> <br/> [Official Introduction](https://www.glp.com.cn/parks/info/146.html?daohangtype=%E7%89%A9%E6%B5%81%E4%BB%93%E5%82%A8&daohangtypeint=1)|
| Zhaoqing | Zhaoqing 56xyy Logistics Centre|56xyy Logistics|[Job ad](https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/CXz8OVJs4AEx-f1qNt1c7w) <br/> <br/> [Company Website](http://www.56xyy.com/)|
| Zhaoqing | Vailog Guangdong Zhaoqin Sihui Logistics Park|Vailog|[Job ad](https://v.douyin.com/NQJN7LH/) <br/> <br/> [Official Introduction](http://www.vailogchina.com/en/project.php?showid=96)|
| Heshan | Vailog Guangdong Heshan Logistics Park| Vailog |[Job ad](https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/7O1lLwcTiu0P8qoRt7EnBw) <br/> <br/> [Official Introduction](http://www.vailogchina.com/en/project.php?showid=70)|
## Types of work, Number of Different Posts
The name of respective work positions could be found in online job postings. At time of research, a total of 15 position-types were under recruitment, mostly manual work involving receiving products, sorting, shelving, picking and dispatching products. Other positions included positions such as forklift drivers, QC inspectors and truck marshals. Most positions did not have education or past work requirements. To be considered, applicants had to be 19-40 years old, able to recognize all 26 English alphabetic letters, and perform basic computer tasks.
| Position | Job Content | |
| -------------------------------- | -------- | --- |
| 入庫 Inbound |Count number of incoming products, scan barcodes to enter them into the system|[video link](https://v.douyin.com/FPBL47P/)|
| 上架 Shelving |Place products onto corresponding shelves|[video link](https://www.ixigua.com/7030677605024006669?wid_try=1)|
| 拉貨 Hauling |Haul primary sorted goods for secondary sorting|[video link](https://v.douyin.com/FPknAL1/)|
| 盤點 Inventory Checker |Check inventory on shelves|[video link](https://v.douyin.com/FjJQPB2/)|
| 調度Truck marshalling |Guide incoming trucks to determined locations| |
| Sorting |Receive products from the conveyer belt, sort products into their corresponding carts|[video link](https://v.douyin.com/FPSmDDw/)|
| 揀貨 order picking |Pick up goods from shelves for packaging and dispatch|[video link](https://v.douyin.com/FPSkBXQ/)|
| 質控QC Checking |Inspect for substandard products & abnormal operations in warehouse; Error handling|[video link](https://v.douyin.com/FPBGLdP/)|
| 下架deshelving |Transfer shelved goods to designated places for further processing|[video link](https://v.douyin.com/FPkV9UK/)|
| 播種 Digital Assorting Operation |Place goods at the digital sorting system & collect the assorted goods|[video link](https://v.douyin.com/FPBfDgr/)|
| 發貨員 Dispatching |Label, weigh, and box up products to be dispatched|[video link](https://v.douyin.com/FPBAu9r/)|
| 装车员 Truck loading |Load boxed products onto truck for transport|[video link](https://v.douyin.com/FPSpd6o/)|
| 叉車工Forklift driver |Drive forklifts (forklift license required)| |
| Security |Check for contraband or stolen products carried by employees| |
Several positions involve moving clothing products or checking inventory across a shop floor area of more than 100,000 square meters. Worker complaints about excessive walking, resulting in fatigue and injuries, are common on social media. “If you’re in picking or shelving, you’ll have to walk at least 70,000 or 80,000 steps each day, even during night shifts,” said one Douyin user, who claimed to have worked in a SHEIN warehouse for a week. “I persevered for a week, my feet were all scraped and I even ruined my shoes.” The problem of excessive walking and running is commonly admitted to by the recruiters as well, but it’s often explained away by the wage level, with the reasoning that excess effort is justified because the pay is relatively high[^forexample]. This will be discussed in a subsequent section.
[^forexample]: For example, https://v.douyin.com/FrAwXG1/
*Fig. 3 Video caption: “they said SHEIN’s pay can get up to 10,000 Yuan. I now understand it’s not that easy to earn. Every day it is tens of thousands of steps, my back hurts when I wake up.” (Captured from Douyin video: https://v.douyin.com/F5S349T/)*
*Fig. 4 In the comment section: “not ten thousand steps, it is 40-80 thousand steps, minimum 40 thousand for sorting department. Other departments 20-30 thousand step at least as well.” (Captured from Douyin video: https://v.douyin.com/F5Ayj2J/)*
## Working Hours
SHEIN warehouses operate on a two-shift basis, allowing them to operate approximately 24 hours a day. Workers change shifts every 15 days, according to employment postings. Working hours are mostly seasonal and are based on the volume of items to be processed, ranging from 10 to 14 hours each day. As a result, working hours vary by shift and by period, with day shifts beginning 8-9 am and finishing 7-8 pm, and night shifts beginning 7-8 pm and ending 8-9 am. A one-hour meal break is provided, according to the job postings, but our conversation with one of the workers revealed that in practice, the length of meal time may vary by warehouse.
Rest day arrangements are seasonal as well, ranging from 4-6 days each month. However, according to recruiters, it appears that rest days are neither fixed nor regular, and mostly dependent on shift scheduling. This can result in more than 10 days of consecutive work, as found in one employees’ attendance record online.
Note that despite being fairly common among factories in the Pearl River Delta, the 2-shift system has long been disputed and complained about by workers. Employees are required to alternate between day and night shifts once every few weeks, with each shift lasting 10-14 hours, which can cause significant disruption to workers’ sleeping patterns and overall wellbeing. Sleep disorders and decline in [cognitive performance] are clinically proven to be some of the major consequences of shift work over the long term. This is found to be one of the major complaints among workers regarding working hour arrangements. The structure or working hours is also clearly not in line with legally stipulated maximum working hours, 44 hours a week[^44hourperweek] with maximum overtime of 36 hours per month[^36hourpermonth]. This is, however, extremely common among factories in the Pearl River Delta Area – therefore, more workers complain about having to do night shifts, rather than the working hours themselves.
[^44hourperweek]: Article 36, Labour Law of the People's Republic of China.
[^36hourpermonth]: Article 41, Labour Law of the People's Republic of China.
*Fig. 5 Caption: “3rd day taking up the SHEIN challenge. I only slept for 3 hours in the day how do I pull through?” (Captured from Douyin video: https://v.douyin.com/F5UaL9p/)*
*Fig. 6 Caption: “After working night shifts for a long time, your memory declines, you look drained and old, your immunity weakens and you get sick more easily. At the end you’re just working to pay the hospital fees.” (Captured from Douyin video: https://v.douyin.com/F55qGPR/)*
## Use of Temp Workers
There appears to be no difference between regular and temp employees in terms of work tasks and hours. In other respects, though, they are treated quite differently. An overview of the warehouse temp worker program will be instructive.
While temp workers were not under recruitment at the time of research, past job openings have shown that SHEIN warehouses hire temporary workers on a seasonal basis. For temp workers, the contract duration lasts one month and will be renewed if both the employer and employee wish to continue. On the other hand, regular workers will sign a 3-month contract for their probation period, and a 3-year contract after passing the probation period. According to [recruiters](https://v.douyin.com/FaQKB1n/), “temp workers are allowed to leave at any point after completing one month in the warehouse, with their full wages settled at leave.” However, the “flexibility” offered from a temp contract should not be exaggerated since regular workers also have the right of resignation protected by law, though their wages will probably not be received until the next payday.
More differences between temp and regular employees reside in their wage rates and benefits, which will be discussed in the following section.
## Wage Level and Benefits
In job postings, for positions involved in transfer, dispatch or inventory counting, wages of regular employees are composed of 3 parts: the base salary, overtime pay and a performance bonus. In practice, overtime pay is calculated by the number of products processed outside the “legal” working hours (21.5 days a month, 8 hours a day), and the performance bonus is also dependent upon the number of products processed in the month, so together they comprise a type of piece rate system of pay. The base salary is approximately equal to the local minimum wage level, such that the wage level never violates the law[^foshanmw]. A night-shift bonus of 25 Yuan is provided for each day worked at night, and since workers have roughly the same number of night-shift days every month, it becomes a part of the fixed salary for workers, alongside their base salaries. However, most of the time, regular employee income is predominantly earned through overtime pay and performance bonuses.
[^foshanmw]: As of 2022, the minimum monthly wage level for Foshan, Zhaoqing and Guangzhou are 1,900 Yuan, 1,720 Yuan and 2,300 Yuan respectively.
*Fig. 7 A wage slip posted on Douyin: base salary is 1600 Yuan, overtime pay 1523.37 Yuan, productivity bonus 3969.74 Yuan. (Captured from Douyin video: https://v.douyin.com/F5UTU8Y/)*
The piece rate system is made possible by the barcode scanner held by each employee. Scanning barcode of packaging and storage boxes not only tracks the location of each product, but also keeps track of the amount of work done by each worker. However, despite several online conversations, the piece rate calculation remains ambiguous, and doesn’t appear to be transparent to employees.
Wage levels in SHEIN warehouses remains a highly contested issue on social media. It is often advertised by recruiters that SHEIN warehouses pay remarkably higher than ordinary manual jobs, and they claim that it is “possible to earn up to 9,000 Yuan or even more than 10,000 Yuan a month”. If true, this is indeed considerably higher than the median wage income in most cities in the province. However, it’s common to find comments accusing them of misleading job seekers, as only a few workers with the best performances can earn such wages. While it is [claimed](https://v.douyin.com/FBmTrxs/) by recruiters that 80% of the employees can get 8,000 to 10,000 Yuan each month, conversations with employees and former employees revealed that most worker earn around 6,000 to 8,000 Yuan a month at best, and during off-seasons the figures can be even lower.
*Fig. 8 In the comments, a worker responds to the recruiter’s claim that earnings can reach 14,000 Yuan: “I’ve been at SHEIN for so long, I have never heard more than a few people who made 10,000. Most get 7,000 to 8,000.” (Captured from Douyin video: https://v.douyin.com/F5PFtjo/)*
This is accompanied by a penalty system that fines workers for every mistake they make. Since the processing of goods involves manual sorting and transfer, as well as a number of other tasks that have to be done manually, warehouses hire quality check inspectors who identify the individuals who make a mistake. Employee are fined 20-50 Yuan for each mistake they made, equaling 1-2 hour’s pay, which adds stress to the already stressful working environment.
This, combined with the heavy workload in the warehouses, has made the job less appealing than job-seekers first imagine. It’s common to find posts and comments on social media from former employees claiming to have left the job within a few weeks after being hired, admitting to have “failed the SHEIN challenge”.
*Fig. 9 Text in video: "Took the SHEIN challenge in the order picking department and failed after 73 days." (Captured from Douyin video: https://v.douyin.com/Fm4rW2y/)*
Temp employees, on the other hand, are paid on an hourly basis, with hourly wages ranging from 19 to 28 Yuan/hour. Based on monthly working hours of roughly 300, plus a 25 Yuan night shift bonus for each day at night-shift, temp workers earn between 6000 and 7000 Yuan per month, a similar amount to the average regular worker. According to a conversation with a former worker, “temp is better than regular, since temp workers don’t have a productivity target to meet, while regulars do.” However, temp workers with low productivity are still put under pressure. A worker on a Douyin video [complains](https://v.douyin.com/F5jBxeX/) that frontline managers (“group leaders”) conduct meetings with underachieving employees and threaten to dismiss them if they do not improve their productivity.
*Fig. 10 A job posting found on an online discussion board, recruiting temp workers for SHEIN warehouses. The wage is 21 Yuan per hour. (https://tieba.baidu.com/p/7604842717)*
Another major difference between regular and temp employees lies in the legally stipulated benefits and extra pay on holidays. In terms of benefits, it is claimed that regular employees are entitled to all 5 types of Social Insurance as well as the Housing Provident Fund[^provfund]. However, whether the contributions are calculated according to employees’ actual wages, as the law requires, or merely according to their base salary - a common violation among factories - remains unknown. In terms of holiday pay, the warehouse will pay three times the normal wage for employees who stay at work during state holidays, in accordance to the law. Both benefits and holiday pay are not included in temp employees’ terms of employment, constituting a violation of the law.
[^provfund]: The Social Security are legally stipulated benefits and applies to all employees who has a labor contract with their employers. Social Security consists of 5 different types of social insurances and a housing provident fund, to be contributed by both the employee and employer. For more detailed explanation refer to: https://clb.org.hk/content/china%E2%80%99s-social-security-system
## Food, Lodging and Transportation
Since most of the warehouses are located far from the urban center, employees often have to rely on food provided in canteens, sleep in dormitories and be transported to and from their workplaces by buses every day. Even though it is sometimes advertised that “meals and lodging [are] provided” on job postings, a significant grey area remains to be examined.
A 300-390 Yuan meal subsidy is distributed to workers monthly, together with their monthly wage, as shown on payment notices. However, as both recruiters and employees admit, this is not enough to cover all of the meal costs for an employee. Day-shift employees usually have lunch in the canteen, which costs 10 Yuan each meal, while having breakfast and dinner outside. For overnight-shift employees, since their meal schedules get disrupted by the work arrangements, their meal arrangements get more complicated: some have a midnight meal instead of lunches, some just have a snack, some go down to two meals or even one meal per day. In any case, it’s obvious that the meal subsidy is not enough to cover all of the basic meals for each employee, since they already spend 240-270 Yuan each month on canteen meals, assuming they have 4-6 rest days each month and consume one meal in the canteen each day.
Another issue lies in the meal time. Despite having a one-hour meal time written on job postings, during an online chat, a former employee complained about the meal time being as short as 40 minutes. This is aggravated by the fact that all employees at the warehouse eat at the same time, while canteen counters are severely insufficient to serve all of them. As a result, some may not even receive their meals before returning to work. “I worked there for a week, basically I didn’t get to eat in there.”
In terms of lodging, dormitories are provided to employees. Workers can also decide to rent their own apartments and receive a rent subsidy of 200-220 Yuan a month, but this option is generally not taken up by employees since apartments within commuting distance cost much more than the subsidy provided. A former worker at one of the Foshan warehouses, who had no choice but to rent her own place due to insufficient dormitory space, [complained](https://v.douyin.com/F5h4bFY/) that a room nearby charged 70 Yuan a day.
Since dormitories are not owned by employers, dormitory conditions and costs vary by provider, ranging from newly built residential complexes, dedicated workers’ dormitories in logistics parks, to hostels within commuting distance. Further, temp worker dormitory conditions vary much more than that of regular workers. At this point, it is only possible to offer a largely general observation of regular worker dormitories. Regular employees are usually assigned a bed in a dormitory room, which is shared with 3-5 other workers. Each room has 2-3 bunk beds, closets and a shared bathroom. Since some of the dormitories were newly built, some agreed that the cleanliness and home appliances included were better than average factory dormitories. However, they state that the electric and water bill are “split between the employer and employees”, leading to a monthly fee shared by each roommate. As a worker claimed, this fee amounts to 8 Yuan per day for each roommate, which equals to at least 240 Yuan a month, roughly the salary for a day’s work. To ensure payment of the fee, workers are required to make a deposit of 230-260 Yuan upfront before moving in.
*Fig. 11 Video caption: "Everytime I share about SHEIN’s dormitories it goes viral, might as well post one last time. Don’t get me wrong, not all SHEIN dormitories are this nice. This is an exception; some have steel bunk beds too." (Captured from Douyin video: https://v.douyin.com/FaH3evv/)*
*Fig. 12 Video caption: “I just found out today that dormitories at SHEIN charge a water & electricity bill of 8 Yuan each day. For all 6 in a room its 1,440 a month. At the end we are the ones paying for it.”; In the comment section: “8 Yuan for each person per day, that’s a bit expensive, isn’t it?” (Captured from Douyin Video: https://v.douyin.com/FmqDu7k/)*
In some cases, because dormitories are particularly far from workplaces, travelling time is another problem. Although the company provides free transportation to and from their workplaces, complaints about long bus rides are not uncommon. A former worker in their Nansha returns warehouse said they had to spend two hours on the buses each day. “You work 11 hours a day. And because your dormitory is 1 hour away, the workday actually is 13-14 hours.”
## Intermediaries and Labor Dispatch Agencies
It is clear that recruiting intermediaries are widely used to recruit workers for SHEIN warehouses. Job postings on social media platforms are usually not posted by the warehouse companies themselves, but the intermediaries. Job-seekers typically learn about the job openings through the intermediaries, contact them directly, and then get scheduled for an interview with the warehouse company. Intermediaries cannot guarantee all interviewees get a job offer. At the time of research, it is unclear how much of a referral fee is received, nor is it clear how much of the intermediaries’ incomes are composed of referral fees. However, the constant quibbling between intermediaries should imply a fierce competition for job-seekers.
Labor dispatch agencies also play a part in staffing SHEIN warehouses, though in a different way than the intermediaries. As shown on payment invoices, the entity distributing wages to workers is a labor dispatch agency instead of the warehouse company itself. SMS messages also clearly shows that employees are recruited to work at “dispatch project at SHEIN by Engma Human Resource” or “dispatch project at SHEIN by Guangdong NanYou Foreign Service Ltd.”. This goes the same for both regular workers and temp workers. It is likely that workers establish a contractual relationship with a dispatch agency rather than the warehouse company itself. Such practices possibly constitute a breach of the Interim Provisions on Labor Dispatch, which sets a limit on the percentage of dispatch workers in a company[^labordispatch]. More importantly, having dispatch agencies sign contracts with workers who are clearly non-dispatch workers is a long-disputed issue, for it muddles the legal relationships with workers and hence their entitlements, granting the employer an advantage in cases of labor dispute, arrears, work accidents or layoffs.
[^labordispatch]: Article 4: An employer shall strictly control the number of dispatched workers employed which shall not exceed 10% of the total number of its workers.
For the purpose of the preceding paragraph, the total number of workers means the sum of the number of employees who have entered into labor contracts with the employer and the number of dispatched workers employed by the employer.
An employer that calculates the proportion of the dispatched workers employed refers to an employer that can enter into labor contracts with workers in accordance with the Labor Contract Law and the Regulation on the Implementation of the Labor Contract Law.
*Fig. 13 An SMS message of job offer at Prologis Logistics Park in Foshan. The message states that the employee is recruited to Engma Human Resource's dispatch project at SHEIN. (Captured from Douyin video: https://v.douyin.com/Fax8dWD/)*
*Fig. 14 An SMS message of job offer at Vailog Logistics Park in Dawang, Zhaoqing. Inside the bracket in the beginning is the name of a dispatch agency, Guangdong NanYou Foreign Service Limited. (Captured from Douyin video: https://v.douyin.com/FaQSqPq/)*
### Heavy Workloads; Piece-rate System that Pushes Workers to Fulfill the Targets
Employees in certain positions are required to work at an exceedingly high intensity, having to walk 60,000-80,000 steps on feet per day. This is accompanied with a penalty system that costs employees 1 to 2 hours’ wage for every mistake they make, during sorting, labelling or shelving. Complaints about stressful working conditions is commonly found amongst workers on the internet.
Work intensity results from a piece-rate system that tracks the amount of work done by each worker through their barcode scanners. With a wage scheme that has more than 70% of the wages earned through piecework, regular employees are compelled to reach productivity standards set by the employer without being explicitly asked to. While it is possible to reach a higher income then elsewhere, amounting to more than 9,000 Yuan a month, only a small part of the workforce is actually able to achieve this.
### Long Working Hours, Lack of Rests and 2-shift System
Employees are required to work 10 to 14 hours each day, depending on the number of orders. 4 to 6 rest days are given each month depending on the shift scheduling, and therefore not on a regular basis. Workers have to switch shifts once every 15 days so their daily schedules are turned upside down every two weeks, raising physical and mental health concerns.
Some of those conditions are blatantly illegal, despite being so common among factories in the Pearl River Delta that few workers are consider it a problem in the SHEIN warehouses. The amount of working hours, often exceeding 60 hours per week, is one of these conditions. Nonetheless, the physical and mental drain caused by the 2-shift system still receives more criticism by workers.
On top of regular working hours, commuting time is also notable. Some of the warehouses, being far away from residential areas, require 1 hour bus rides from employee dormitories, resulting in further deprivation of rest time.
### Unclear Employment Relationships
Despite working full time in the warehouses, workers only sign a contract with a labor dispatch agency instead of SHEIN or the warehouse company. This goes the same for both regular workers and temp workers, whether they were recruited through intermediaries or directly by HR departments.
This results in unclear labor relations and ambiguous legal responsibilities, regarding Social Insurance contributions, compensation in case of work-related injuries, as well as compensation for being laid off. It is also remains to be determined if the warehouses’ use of dispatch workers exceeds the limit set by *Interim Provisions on Labor Dispatch*.
### Intermediaries that Take Advantage on Job-seekers
On the internet, intermediaries recruiting for SHEIN warehouses are much more prevalent than actual job postings by the SHEIN warehouses themselves. Intermediaries have an interest in referring potential job-seekers to job interviews, and tend to make the terms look more attractive than they actually are. This is clear in the differing accounts of wage levels and intensity of work between intermediaries and actual employees. This also partly explains the high turnover rate among workers, who often find work conditions less appealing than they expected.
It should also be noted that in recruitment videos and job postings posted by different intermediaries, the wages slightly vary. This is more noticeable on temp workers’ job postings, whose salaries are calculated in hourly wages. It remains to be discovered if the intermediaries receive a cut from workers’ wages as referral fee.
*Special thanks to Jen Liu for her help in proofreading and rephrasing.*