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Workers need better safety net

Update: March, 02/2013 - 11:20

Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Nguyen Thanh Hoa spoke to Thoi bao Kinh te Viet Nam (Viet Nam Economic Times) about the need for new regulations on unemployment insurance

During the economic slowdown, many enterprises face financial difficulties which cause them to delay paying unemployment insurance fees, thus violating workers' rights. What do you think about it?

At present, there are over 8 million people with unemployment insurance. Last year, despite the economic slowdown, the number of participants was still 6.6 per cent higher than the previous year.

This proves the effectiveness of a campaign to raise public awareness of the benefits of unemployment insurance. About 1.1 million participants have registered for insurance allowances after losing their jobs, with nearly 870,000 people being successful.

According to current regulations, people are eligible to get the allowance if they and their employers fulfill their responsibilities in paying unemployment premiums to a social insurance agency.

However, in an economic slowdown, enterprises find it hard to fulfill their responsibilities. As the result, a large number of people who lose their jobs don't get the allowance. Seeing this fact, the ministry has proposed the Government change regulations to ensure workers get their benefits.

Do you think the economic slowdown is the main cause for the increase in unemployment claims. Is there any policy to provide a safety net for people working in informal sectors?

The number of applications for unemployment insurance has been increasing, first because of improved understanding about the policy by both employees and employers.

Secondly, the number of participants eligible to get the allowance has increased because they have paid premiums for at least 12 months.

Thirdly, the economic slowdown has caused more people to lose their jobs.

To support people who are working informally, it'd be better to offer them micro loans with low interest rates so they can create jobs. Helping people get jobs with improved incomes is the core of social welfare activities. To do so, it is needed to have policies to overcome economic turmoil, support enterprises and create more jobs.

As an agency dedicated to boosting social welfare policies, the ministry has proposed policies to support such people in need, including those working informally. However, funding limits are still a major problem, prompting lawmakers to further study solutions which "harmonise" funding abilities and target support for working people.

What do you think about the possibility of collusion between employers and employees to take advantage of the unemployment policy to profit?

Tough economic times are predicted to continue this year, possibly to increase the number of laid-off workers applying for allowances but I don't think it would increase much.

Since the Unemployment Insurance Law came into effect, authorities have taken into account possibilities that enterprises or insurance participants will make use of the policy to profit.

For example, enterprises collude with employees to claim unemployment benefits and then the enterprises re-employ the previously dismissed people. However, it's not difficult for insurance agencies to detect such violations.

In addition to measures to better detect and punish violations, we have made some changes to regulations, which are expected to make it more convenient for beneficiaries to get the allowance.

Accordingly, since the middle of January, unemployment insurance beneficiaries have three months, instead of only seven days, to register for unemployment benefits after their working contract becomes invalid. This gives them more time to complete procedures.

In turn, insurance offices will pay the allowance within five days of approval. Otherwise, the insurance office must inform employees and employers why they have been turned down. — VNS

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