Viet Nam News
Lê Đình Quảng, deputy head of the Labour Relations Department under the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA), speaks to the Lao Động (Labour) newspaper about longer working hours.
Could you tell us about the ministry’s proposal to increase working hours in the revision of the 2012 Labour Code?
There are two scenarios in our proposal to increase workers’ working hours.
Scenario one: A worker can work 12 hours a day, including four hours overtime, for five days a week. However, in one year, a worker’s overtime hours are capped at 600 hours.
Scenario two: Overtime and normal working hours for a worker are the same as in scenario one, but there is no overtime cap.
What I want to emphasise is that the overtime put in by Vietnamese workers is the lowest among workers in the region.
Under the 2012 Labour Code, a work week is 48 hours, plus 200 hours of overtime a year, and 300 under special circumstances. In a calendar year, a Vietnamese worker can work up to 2,620 hours.
Meanwhile, in Indonesia, overtime hours are capped at 728 a year and the working week is 40 hours. So in a calendar year, an Indonesian works 2,608 hours, 12 hours less than a Vietnamese one. In China, a worker is entitled to work 2,288 hours, and a Korean can work up to 2,446 hours a year.
So, if we apply scenario one, the total working hours of a Vietnamese worker will be the highest in the region.
If we apply scenario two, the Vietnamese will have the longest working hours in the world.
We should also take into account the physical health of the Vietnamese people and their working environment, which is less developed than in other countries.
Overtime hours are always coupled with labour accidents. This is a truth no one can negate. That’s why we have to think twice before making the decision, for the interests of both workers and employers.
In your opinion, what is the right number of overtime hours for a Vietnamese worker in a year?
Both the MOLISA and the Việt Nam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL) have agreed that the overtime of Vietnamese workers should be capped at 300 hours per year, against the present 200. However, in special cases, this could be raised to 400 hours against the present 300.
During our discussions, both the MOLISA and the VGCL have agreed to lift the cap of 30 overtime hours a month to help employers under special circumstances.
One reason MOLISA wants to increase the overtime cap is to help employees increase their income. What’s your point of view on this?
I have to concede that a worker’s minimum salary at present is too low. They want to work extra hours to earn more money to cover their needs. In the long run we have to reform our salary system. Minimum salary must be on par with the minimum living wage.
According to Mai Đức Chung, Vice Chairman of the VGCL, there is a roadmap for overtime pay. For example, the payment for 200 hours overtime on weekdays is proposed at 150% of normal payment, 200% for 201-300 hours overtime and 250% for 301 hours of overtime and up. Of course, the VGCL will negotiate this proposal with the Việt Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which represents employers.
The amended Labour Code is expected to be submitted to the National Assembly in the first half of 2017. — VNS