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Tet bonuses: fortune or famine, depending on where you work

Update: January, 16/2012 - 09:10

Viet Nam News reporter Thu Trang spoke to experts and officials about concerns over inequitable Tet (lunar new year) bonuses for workers across different sectors.

What do you think about the large differences in Tet bonus at various enterprises and offices this year?

Tong Thi Minh, director of the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs' Labour and Salary Department

 

Tong Thi Minh
In general, the Tet bonus this year increased compared with last year despite the economic crisis. On average each worker can receive a bonus of VND2.6 million (US$123).

Almost all enterprises and offices have bonuses for their employees. However, there is a huge disparity between the size of bonuses between various enterprises. An enterprise that has foreign direct investment (FDI) in HCM City reported to have the highest Tet bonus in the country, which is VND700 million ($33,300), whereas at the other end of the scale other enterprises give their employees only VND100,000-200,000 ($4.7-9.5) or some enterprises in industrial zones give their employees a bottle of cooking oil or a pack of confectionery as a bonus for Tet.

The award gap between different enterprises and offices is big, but I think it's suitable to the general situation, as enterprises will pay the award depending on their profits. If their business did not run smoothly, how can they find funds for large bonuses? The State encourages enterprises to have an award for employees when the year ends, but it's not a compulsory duty.

Nguyen Thi Hien, director of the French Intelligent Insect Control Company's Representative Office in Viet Nam

 

Nguyen Thi Hien
Employees at my company will receive an extra month's salary as a bonus for Tet. On average each of them can receive VND10 million ($476). The bonus difference in my company is also about VND10 million.

The gap is great, but is acceptable as employees are rewarded depending on their work, job description and contribution to the company. If their work is simple and does not take much time, it's sure that their bonus will be lower than that of other staff who do a lot of work and take on large responsibilities for the company.

Nguyen Minh Phong, head of the Ha Noi Institute for Socio-Economic Development's Economic Research Division

The gap is reasonable in the context of the nation's developing economy because enterprises reward their workers based on their output. If enterprises and companies have high profits after paying their taxes, they can offer their workers a greater reward.

 

Nguyen Minh Phong
Many enterprises went bankrupt because of the economic crisis so some enterprises paid their workers less at the end of the year, and this is logical.

People say some enterprises have announced a big Tet bonus in a bid to bolster the company's public reputation. Do you agree?

Minh:The idea may be right. Some enterprises may announce a big bonus for Tet to make themselves more famous and attract workers, as every year after the Tet holiday, a great number of workers want to change jobs or find better jobs where they can earn higher pay and look forward to larger rewards. Viet Nam's laws do not have any regulations on inspecting Tet bonuses and we will not check on companies to see if they have passed on these bonuses.

In the present labour market, many officials and high-ranking experts are paid yearly, not monthly like workers, so when the Lunar New Year comes they may receive a great amount of money and some people think it's only their bonus.

Hien:I do not believe that a company can reward their employees with VND700 million ($33,300) as the ministry has reported. It can be a way to promote their brand names, or this amount of money may cover more than just the annual bonuses, such as allowances for petrol or lunch.

Phong: I do not think so. If someone said that an enterprise announced a big bonus to publicise their brand name, he/she should find clear evidence for this. Bonuses are a motivation for workers to work harder, so why can't an enterprise balance their accounts to give their workers a high bonus?

Should the State issue a policy to balance these bonuses for next year?

Minh: It's difficult for the State to set up a policy to balance Tet bonuses across different sectors and areas as rewards for State employees are based on their regulated salaries whereas enterprises base end-of-year rewards on their output and profits. It's quite different between the sectors.

Hien: A Tet bonus is high or low depending on the job's nature, and the State should issue a policy to balance Tet bonus to help State employees have a higher income and a stronger attachment to their jobs. If I were a State employee who has a low award for the holidays, I may quit my job to find a higher income at a private company. There should also be checks on these bonuses.

Phong: The State should not have any policy to balance the bonus as this clashes with world trends. I heard that some enterprises in foreign countries awarded their employees with ships or yachts, thus we should encourage enterprises to award their workers in any way they see fit. We want to integrate into the world, thus our economy should operate in line with the economies of foreign countries. — VNS

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