Vietnam Labor Federation Proposes Cut to Weekly Working Hours

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The Vietnam Labor Federation has proposed reducing the maximum number of working hours in Vietnam to under 48 hours a week. Here are the details.

The Vietnam General Confederation of Labour has suggested that the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) put together a plan to reduce the weekly hours a Vietnamese worker is permitted to work to under 48.

Currently, Vietnamese workers work an average of 41.6 hours a week, however, 25 percent of workers work more than 49 hours a week, according to International Labour Organisation (ILO) data. This is most common in the manufacturing sector which often has seasonal peaks and troughs with workers compensated with penalty rates according to the Labor Code 2019.

Pham Thu Lan, the deputy director of the Institute of Workers and Trade Union (IWTU), however, told VietnamNet that despite the additional pay, factory workers were still unhappy with the number of hours they work.

“Factory workers always complain about unfairness. They say while state officers have 40 working hours a week and have a two-day weekend, factory workers have to work 48 hours,” Lan told the publication.

Lan also said that by reducing the number of work hours and improving working conditions it could spur high-quality foreign direct investment. In particular, Lan suggested that foreign firms may need to invest in automation and new technology, rather than relying on Vietnam’s low-cost labor, and that this would push Vietnam’s manufacturing toward a more high-tech future.

That said, former Deputy Minister of MOLISA Pham Minh Huan, has said the proposal would need to be carefully considered with many businesses struggling due to broad economic challenges. Huan suggested that a reduction in working hours may not be possible until after 2030.

Current legislation

Currently, working hours are limited to 48 hours per week or eight hours a day for six days a week. However, if an employer and employee agree, workers are permitted to work overtime.

These regulations put Vietnam at the higher end of working hours in the region–the ILO World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2024 released last week found a steady fall in the mean working hours in Southeast Asia since 2010. Specifically, workers in Southeast Asia worked an average of 42.6 hours a week in 2010, however, in 2024 that number is expected to come down to 39.9 hours

Notably, Vietnamese workers are entitled to overtime for the hours they work exceeding 48.

Overtime rates are based on an employee’s current wage plus: 50 percent on regular working days, 100 percent on weekends, and 200 percent on holidays and paid leave days.

Furthermore, employees who work at night (outside of the hours from 6am to 10pm) are entitled to an additional 30 percent of the day rate, with an employee that works overtime, overnight entitled to an additional 20 percent of the day rate.

Overtime is, however, capped at 300 hours per year.

For more information contact the human resources professionals at Dezan Shira and Associates.

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