Vietnam sees six-fold rise in foreign workers since 2004

By Minh Nga   May 23, 2017 | 11:25 pm PT
Vietnam sees six-fold rise in foreign workers since 2004
Two foreign chefs at a five-star hotel in Saigon. Photo by Phan Truc
Officials are looking into ways to collect social insurance payments from them.

Nearly 84,000 foreigners are working in Vietnam compared to 12,600 in 2004, and the country is working out policies and methods to collect social insurance, according to media reports.

Most of them are skilled workers with work permits, Tran Hai Nam, deputy head of the Social Insurance Department under the labor ministry, was quoted as saying in a report published Wednesday by Voice of Vietnam.

That figure is a rise of 1.8 percent from a year ago, when the country had 82,500 working foreigners, as reported by the labor ministry.

The ministry is now consulting experts and the public on the formulations of new rules that would require foreign workers to pay social insurance, which is already compulsory for all Vietnamese salary earners.

Under a draft decree, the basic insurance package for foreign employees would cover sickness, maternity, occupational diseases and accidents, retirement and death, which is similar to that for Vietnamese workers. If approved, it will come into force from January 1, 2018.

But many have questioned this plan, saying there are also many foreigners working under the radar without permits and bringing them all into the system would be a tough task.

Others are concerned that without bilateral agreements, foreign workers could be required to pay for insurance coverage both in Vietnam and in their home countries.

Some also want to know about payout policies when a foreign worker leaves Vietnam.

The annual HSBC’s Expat Explorer survey last year found that good career opportunities in a stable economy have made Vietnam one of the best host countries for foreigners.

A good proportion of expats in Vietnam, 35 percent, agree that the country is a good place to progress their careers. The top three reasons they choose to move to Vietnam are for a new challenge (46 percent), being sent by an employer (26 percent) and to improve their quality of life (24 percent).

According to the survey, expats in Vietnam could earn $103,000 annually on average, which is above the global level and a quarter less than Singapore's. That is around 50 times higher than the annual income average for Vietnamese, which was $2,100 last year according to the World Bank.

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