Pham Minh Huan, Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs spoke to Hai Quan (Customs) newspaper about the Tet (Lunar New Year) bonuses employees are expecting in less than two months time.
What can you tell us about the bonus that workers will be given in the coming 2016 Lunar New Year?
Viet Nam's GDP growth for the year 2015 is higher than that of previous years with its stable industrial production value and the workers' wage is stable. So in my opinion, in the up coming Lunar New Year, many employers will give higher new year bonus to their workers. Of course, enterprises which are still facing difficulties in their production, particularly small enterprises, they will have to calculate carefully before making their bonus decisions.
Do you anticipate that if this new year's bonus is between VND 50,000-100,000 (US$2.2-4.4) like that of the previous year, workers in some industrial parks will go on strike?
In my opinion, what happened last year was a good lesson for employers for this year. I recommend that local management agencies should give instructions to enterprises in their localities to work out different scenarios to ensure all workers will have a happy new year.
I'm confident that open talks between employers and employees will help iron out difficulties or misunderstanding between the two parties and look forward to a bright future.
Due to financial difficulties, in the previous years, some employers gave the new year bonus to their employees with products from their own enterprises. How do you respond to that kind of bonus?
No law in Viet Nam prohibits such a bonus that an employer gives to his/her employee. However, the bonus in kind – products that cannot be sold – can't not be accepted. In such a situation, I think, the enterprise's trade union should stand up on behalf of the workers to petition against the employer's decision.
Do you think that giving bonuses to employees during the Lunar New Year should be written into the Labour Code?
In both the first Labour Code which was enacted in 1995 or the 2012 revised Labour Code, this issue was not included. Yet, during their discussions about amendments in 1995, quite a few lawmakers had raised the issue. In my own point of view, the bonus should be based on the production result of the enterprise. It cannot be regulated by the Labour Code.
On the other hand, giving bonuses to employees during the Lunar New Year is a Vietnamese tradition, not an international practice. In our tradition, the bonus is an expression of the employer's gratitude to his/her employee's hard work throughout the year and an acknowledge of their contribution to the enterprise' development.
In addition, our economy nowadays is a market economy and is integrating deeper and deeper internationally, so it is important for us to develop our legal system to be harmonised with international practice and with our own tradition. — VNS