Proposal to scrap workers' overtime limit divides opinions

By Hong Chieu, Le Tuyet   October 5, 2021 | 03:30 am PT
Proposal to scrap workers' overtime limit divides opinions
Young employees stay at their workplace at the Saigon Hi-tech Park in HCMC in October 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Chung Dang
Proponents of removing the monthly overtime cap of 40 hours for workers say it will help enterprises recover post-Covid-19, but critics say it could be harmful to health.

The Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs is soliciting public opinion for a report it will submit to the government and then the Standing Committee of the National Assembly, which will consider overtime-related proposals in it for approval.

It seeks to scrap the overtime monthly cap of 40 hours but not the 200-300 hours annual limit. The proposals will be valid until the end of 2024.

A Labor Law amendment limits overtime to 40 hours a month and 200 hours a year in most industries, and at 300 hours in a few sectors such garment and textile and footwear, agricultural processing, electricity generation and supply, telecommunications, oil refining, water supply and drainage, salt production, and electronics.

Analysts and business executives point out removing the cap will benefit both employers and employees, with the former not having to expand their factories or hire more workers and the latter earning more.

Le Duy Binh, managing director of consulting firm Economica Vietnam, said after the pandemic is curbed, enterprises need to accelerate production to ensure delivery of goods on time and regain customers’ trust, while many people would be willing to work extra hours to earn more, especially with the Lunar New Year coming soon.

He said many industry trade associations and businesses support the removal because workers only work overtime in summer and around Christmas.

Vu Minh Tien, head of the Institute for Workers and Trade Unions, said many people currently work 26 days a month on average and do overtime, and, if the monthly cap is removed, would have little time to balance work and life.

"In fact, working 10 hours or more per day reduces productivity and increases work-related accidents."

He said the monthly overtime cap could be increased by 30 percent to a maximum of 52 hours.

Phung Duc Tung, director of the Mekong Development Research Institute, said the monthly cap should be removed only in certain sectors such as garment and textile, footwear and construction that need speedy production for timely delivery. Besides certain employees like pregnant women, lactating mothers and workers with young children should not be obligated to work long hours.

Some also criticized the three-year period during which the cap would be removed as too long.

Tung said it should apply only until the end of 2022 since, if the pandemic is controlled soon, the economy is likely to recover fully by 2023. It could be extended if the recovery is delayed, he added.

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