Foreign firms call for Vietnam to increase overtime limit

By VnExpress   December 6, 2016 | 05:52 pm GMT+7

Both companies and workers are keen to capitalize on extra hours and productivity.

Many South Korean and Japanese firms are complaining that the current maximum overtime allowed in Vietnam is too short, and have suggested the government should double or triple the figure, Zing News reported.

Vietnam’s Labor Code stipulates that an employee can work a maximum of 200 extra hours per year. In some specific areas like textiles and garments, leather, aquaculture processing, telecommunications, water and power supplies, overtime is capped at 300 hours per year.

These thresholds are holding back the development of IT companies as engineers need to work overtime if any technical problems arise, the Japan Business Association in Vietnam said at the Annual Vietnam Business Forum on Monday.

Han Dong Hee, chairman of the South Korea Business Association, echoed the same opinion, adding that the rule has raised labor costs and delayed production schedules.

The maximum number of overtime hours allowed in Vietnam is currently less than other Southeast Asian countries.

While Vietnamese workers can’t work for more than 200 extra hours per year, it’s 1,800 hours in Thailand, 1,250 in Malaysia, 860 in Singapore and 540 in Laos.

This restriction is taking its toll on both enterprises and their workers.

Ngo Thu Ngan from Toyota’s Vietnam branch said that many employees are willing to work overtime to boost their incomes but the strict regulations are stopping them from doing so.

A recent survey conducted by national television broadcaster VTV at Thang Long Industrial Zone in Hanoi revealed that 97 percent of manual workers want to work overtime as the money from those extra hours accounts for a third of their monthly incomes.

Talking with VnExpress, Ha Tat Thang, head of the Labor Safety Department under the Ministry of Labor, said that the current levels are suitable for Vietnamese workers. If they work for more than 8 hours per day, it will limit their longevity in the workplace.

Pressure from longer overtime hours can also result in more strikes and increase the possibility of workplace accidents, he added.

Thang said that the department is considering increasing the overtime cap but will consider workers' health and enterprises’ benefits before making a final decision.

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