TikTok senior executive steps back after saying he ‘didn’t believe’ companies should offer maternity leave

TikTok executive is under investigation over comments about maternity leave

Meredith Clark
New York
Wednesday 08 June 2022 20:38 BST

A TikTok senior executive who faced backlash for saying he didn’t believe companies should offer maternity leave has stepped back from his role at the company’s UK operation, the Financial Times reports.

Joshua Ma, who heads e-commerce at TikTok Europe for ByteDance – the parent company of the social media app – announced he will “take some time off” and “step back” from his role leading the UK team, according to an email seen by the Financial Times.

The announcement comes after Ma reportedly told London-based staffers that he does not believe companies should offer paid maternity leave, citing his position as a “capitalist”.

“Hopefully, this painful experience will make us a stronger, closer and better team over the long term,” parent company ByteDance said in a staff-wide email obtained by the FT.

Since TikTok Shop – the app’s e-commerce initiative – launched in the UK in October 2021, at least 20 staff members have left the company. Others told the publication that they’re considering quitting due to burnout and long workdays. Two employees have also been paid settlements over working conditions, the FT reported.

“There are people leaving every week, it is like a game every Monday we ask who has been fired, who has quit,” one current employee told the publication.

Other e-commerce team members in London claimed they were expected to work more than 12 hours a day, as to accomodate the company’s workplace headquarters in Beijing. Another former London-based team leader referred to TikTok’s workplace culture as “toxic”.

On Wednesday, TikTok sent an email to staff informing them that Ma had “stepped back” from his position as it conducted a formal investigation into the comments and other claims made by employees.

However, the company maintained that it does have a paid maternity leave policy of 30 weeks in the UK.

The Independent has contacted TikTok for comment.

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