Vietnam Clarifies Foreign Worker Guidelines

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Sept. 18 – On September 5, the Vietnamese Government issued Decree 102/2013/ND-CP (Decree 102) regarding the country’s labor laws in order to provide a set of clearer guidelines for foreigners currently working in Vietnam. Decree 102 – which will be effective starting November 1, 2013 – replaces both Decree 34/2008/ND-CP (dated March 25, 2008) and Decree 46/2011/ND-CP (dated June 17, 2011).

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Employers are now required to submit a written report listing out its expat worker job descriptions for each given year, on top of each position that Vietnamese employees are unable to perform, to obtain written approval from the local People’s Committee on an annual basis. Employers are now also not allowed to employ foreign employees for tasks that Vietnamese workers are able to perform (especially unskilled labor positions).

Furthermore, expat workers now do not need to obtain work permits for the following types of jobs:

  • Volunteers working under international treaties;
  • Those responsible for forming a commercial presence for a foreign organization in Vietnam (if they are to be in Vietnam for three months or less);
  • Those who work as managers, executives, specialists or technical workers for companies and people participating in projects based in Vietnam (if they are to be in Vietnam for three months or less);
  • Those with a master’s degree or higher;
  • Those who teach or conduct research at universities/vocational colleges for less than 30 days;  and
  • Students studying and working in Vietnam.

In addition, written confirmation must be obtained from the relevant Department of Labor at least seven days prior to the date on which a foreigner who is subject to work permit exemption begins their actual work duties. Also, the maximum term of a work permit is now two years (as compared to three years previously), and such permits can be re-issued in certain circumstances (i.e., expiration, change of work permit content, etc.). Work permits that were issued before Decree 102 takes effect (i.e., prior to November 1, 2013) will remain valid, and re-registration is not required.

According to Vietnam’s Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, the total number of foreign workers in Vietnam now totals over 71,000 people. Of which, nearly 24,000 people (37 percent) were not granted work permits.

The Ministry has also announced a breakdown for the figures on foreign workers. The foreign workers currently in Vietnam come from over 60 countries throughout the world, and roughly 58 percent are from Asia (mostly mainland China, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Taiwan) and 28.5 percent from Europe.

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