Speakers at an online meeting in HCM City held yesterday discuss human resource management during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo thesaigontimes.vn
HCM CITY — Enterprises should “put people first” in their human resource plans as the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing companies to scale down business or even close for good, experts said at an online seminar on HR management held yesterday in HCM City.
Phạm Văn Việt, chairman of Việt Thắng Jean Co Ltd, said the garment and textile industry, which employs a large labour force, had been hit hard by the pandemic. Many companies said their US and EU partners had stopped receiving goods for three weeks to one month.
Việt said that most workers in the industry would not be able to switch to other jobs in the current economic environment.
Maintaining employment and income for workers was not only a vital business issue but had a great impact on society, he added.
“If enterprises let workers go, where will hundreds of thousands of workers go? What will businesses do to recruit workers after the pandemic is contained? Such questions have not been answered,” he said.
Việt noted that the US and the EU were two of the most important textile export markets for Việt Nam. Half of all textile exports from HCM City went to the US, while the EU accounted for 15-18 per cent of annual exports.
“Partners in these markets have suspended receiving goods, meaning that nearly two-thirds of the market of our textiles and garments has reduced,” Việt added.
The most important issue for textile enterprises, however, is not the delivery of orders but the protection of workers, according to Việt.
To retain workers, about 50 per cent of the textile and apparel enterprises in the association have shifted to making face masks and personal protective equipment.
Tiêu Yến Trinh, CEO of Talentnet, an HR consulting firm, said business disruptions like the coronavirus had affected HR management activities of businesses.
According to a recent survey conducted by Talentnet, only 12 per cent of businesses said they recorded growth in the first quarter compared to the same period last year.
“What businesses are most concerned about is how to generate enough revenue to survive and keep their employees,” Trinh said.
“Building human resource plans plays a crucial role. If a business suffers losses, operating costs should be cut first,” she said.
"For example, if the loss is 70 per cent or more, a company’s benefits can be cut," she said. "When the losses are high, the company must have flexible policies on wages, benefits and jobs for workers."
“The last solution is to temporarily lay off workers for a few months without pay.”
Wage reduction policies should be transparent and fair, starting with the salary cuts of the company leadership, Trinh noted.
In the worst scenario, shutting down a business, companies must also have budgets to deal with any related costs, she noted.
Lawyer Trần Ngọc Thích noted that employees were concerned about their physical safety as well as potential disruptions to their own work, and wanted to know how their company would manage operations.
If enterprises could not continue business, they should have clear guidelines for employees when they are told to stop working, he said.
The Government has issued Resolution 42 on measures to support people facing difficulties due to the Covid-19 pandemic, including financial support for workers, with VNĐ1.8 million per person per month (but not exceeding three months).
But experts have said the support is not enough for workers to survive.
HR managers would play a major role in making employee management decisions as the outbreak remained a major disruption that could affect global operations for months, experts said.
It was important to plan for absenteeism until the pandemic is contained and business is back to normal, they added.
The online seminar, organised by The Saigon Times Online newspaper, was attended by lawyers, members of the business community, and various agencies. — VNS