TikTok executive under company investigation after he said he ‘didn’t believe’ in maternity leave

·2 min read

A TikTok senior executive is reportedly under investigation after allegedly telling employees that he did not believe in offering maternity leave.

Joshua Ma, who heads TikTok’s European e-commerce arm for ByteDance — the platform’s parent company — was forced to “step back” from his U.K.-based role as a result, according to the Financial Times.

Ma made his comments during a dinner with the London staff, which recently lost half its members due to the company’s “aggressive” work culture. Some employees claimed that they were expected to work more than 12 hours a day and had to meet unrealistic expectations.

The workers in question are responsible for TikTok Shop, a relatively new service that allows creators to host live shopping experiences. At the dinner, Ma allegedly told them that as a “capitalist,” he “didn’t believe” companies should offer maternity leave.

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Those remarks triggered an internal investigation. In a company-wide email, TikTok assured that “the wellbeing of our team is our top priority ... [and] leadership 100% supports the use of annual leave to fully recharge and spend time with friends and family.”

ByteDance employees around the world have reportedly complained about the company’s “996” culture, which entails working from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day for six days a week. Two former workers told Insider that such expectations originate from the firm’s Beijing headquarters.

Ma’s LinkedIn profile shows that he has been with ByteDance since he first began working as head of product strategy at Douyin — China’s version of TikTok — in 2018. He assumed his current role in August 2021.

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In the meantime, TikTok named Patrick Nommensen as Ma’s interim successor. Nommensen reportedly spearheaded the platform’s U.K. e-commerce launch and is currently in charge of creator operations.


Featured Image via Solen Feyissa (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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