Illustration by Đàm Minh Chí
By Nguyễn Hằng
Most workers are looking forward to receiving their Tết bonuses at this time of year, but a recent revision to the Labour Code has got them worried about what future Lunar New Year bonuses will have to offer.
Although the new code will not take effect until next Tết, it means employers will be able to reward their employees with cash bonuses OR in kind, based on the performance of both the company and its workers.
Experts have tried to allay these fears by saying the new code also regulates that employers must publicly consult with trade unions before deciding on how the bonus is paid, but workers say that a Tết bonus paid in kind would not go down well.
Their concerns are understandable, because they could be left wondering whether to laugh or cry if they were paid in kind.
For example, in 2013 the media reported that a Hà Nội–based garment and textile company had rewarded its workers with 70 pairs of shorts for Tết. Another example was a brick company in the northern province of Thái Nguyên that gave its workers 200 bricks each for Tết in 2016.
Trần Thị Ngọc Bích from the southern province of Đồng Nai said she had worked for a footwear export company for over a decade, and usually received an extra month's pay as a Tết bonus. The money helped her buy goods to prepare for the holiday.
“If my employer paid my Tết bonus in kind, I would have no money for the holiday,” she added.
Hồ Thị Nhiên who works for a publisher in HCM City said she could not imagine what would she did if she received books as a bonus for Tết.
Đoàn Thị Tươi, who works for a confectionery company based in Hà Nội, said: “All of us prefer receiving our bonuses in cash rather than sweets.”
“If a bonus is paid in kind it should be on top of cash,” she added.
Phạm Cao Cường, living in Hà Nội, said he wanted the ministry to think more about workers.
“We work hard all year round and hope for a financial reward for Tết that we can use to prepare for a happy holiday with their families,” he said.
If a business was struggling and was unable to pay a cash bonus, it should give workers practical gifts they can use. If a business took advantage of the new regulation to save money, the ministry should issue measures to prevent that from happening, he added.
Well deserved reward to encourage labourers
Nguyễn Trương Tuyến, managing director and founder of Vinalinks Group, told Thanh Niên (Young People) online newspaper that when the labour code took effect in 2021, employers would have the right to take advantage of the regulation.
“However, as a manager, I think the most important thing is for employers to consider how to reward workers and make them want to stay with the company,” he said.
According to Tuyến, without this form of encouragement, workers often left companies. It would cost more money to train new staff than it would to pay the bonus.
Vũ Trường Giang from Gia Hưng Inox Company said Tết bonuses should be paid in cash. “It is the best way to reward labourers.”
Ngô Trí Long, an economic expert, said receiving a cash bonus played an important role in the psychology of Vietnamese labourers. It helped improve motivation and productivity.
Long said the new labour code did not reflect the real needs of workers.
Bùi Sỹ Lợi, vice chairman of the National Assembly's Committee for Social Affairs, said Tết bonuses should not be paid in kind.
“If you give workers something they don't need, it's meaningless and worthless,’ he said.
The Tết bonus has been part of Vietnamese culture for many decades. It acts as gauge to show how well the company has performed over the year, and is also an opportunity for an enterprise to show its gratitude to employees.— VNS