Vietnam’s labor union bristles at plan to double overtime limit

By Hoang Phuong, Nguyen Ha   January 4, 2017 | 05:41 am PT
Vietnam’s labor union bristles at plan to double overtime limit
Women work at a garment factory in Hai Duong Province, outside Hanoi. Photo by Reuters/Kham
Bringing the cap to 600 hours a year will allow employers to exhaust their workers and cut back hiring, it says.

The Vietnam General Confederation of Labor, which represents unions across the country, has spoken out against a proposal to raise the cap on overtime, arguing that such a move will lead to many workers becoming exhausted.

Under a proposed Labor Code amendment, the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs wanted to double the overtime limit that an employee may work to a maximum of 600 extra hours per year. Another option is to scrap the annual overtime limit, but restrict employees to a daily cap of 12 hours.

The labor confederation has opposed both these options.

Le Dinh Quang, deputy director of the Department of Labor Relations under the state-run labor organization, said employers could take advantage of the new policy and ask their staff to work longer hours instead of adding new jobs.

Quang said although the current overtime limit in Vietnam is not high, the average worker still clocks in 48 hours per week, or more than 2,400 hours per year.

If the overtime limit is raised, the total number of working hours will become too high, he said.

According to Quang, the overtime limit for an employee in South Korea is 624 hours per year but the total working hours there must not surpass 2,446 hours in a year.

The federation said the limit should only be increased to 400 hours.

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

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in early December asked relevant ministries and agencies to consider adjusting the overtime limit following recommendations from foreign firms.

The overtime limit is 1,800 hours in Thailand, 1,250 in Malaysia, 860 in Singapore and 540 in Laos.

A recent survey conducted by national broadcaster VTV at Hanoi's Thang Long Industrial Zone revealed that 97 percent of the workers there wanted to work overtime as the money from extra hours accounted for a third of their monthly income.

Related news:

> Vietnam weighs doubling overtime limit following calls from foreign firms

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