Companies seek doubling of overtime limit as severe labor shortage continues

By Hong Chieu   March 23, 2022 | 11:30 pm PT
Companies have called on the government to raise workers' overtime limit to 400-500 hours a year rather than the 300 lawmakers decided amid a persistent labor shortage.

Bach Thang Long, deputy manager of textile and garment maker Garco 10, called for the limits to be increased to 60 hours a month and 400 hours a year.

"Ninety percent of our [13,000] employees want to work overtime."

Vietnamese lawmakers Wednesday decided to increase the monthly overtime cap of a worker from 40 to 60 hours. The decision would take affect from April 1 till the end of the year.

It also increases the annual cap for overtime from 200 hours to 300 hours for almost all sectors. Currently only sectors that the government prioritizes for economic growth have an overtime cap of 300 hours.

Garco 10’s plants face a severe labor shortage as 45 percent of workers have contracted Covid-19 since Tet, the Lunar New Year holiday starting February, and have to take 10-14 days off to recover, forcing the remaining employees to work overtime to complete orders.

"No one wants to work overtime, and not all industries need it all year round. But overtime is necessary for short-term, seasonal work."

Workers are seen at a garment factory of Garco 10. Photo by VnExpress/Hong Chieu

Workers are seen at a garment factory of Garco 10. Photo by VnExpress/Hong Chieu

Goertek, an electronic components manufacturer in the northern province of Bac Ninh with 32,000 employees, asked to increase the annual limit to 500 hours.

Its deputy director, Zhang Jian Hua, said the current limit is not enough for the high season or when there are urgent orders, and the leftover overtime from the low season cannot be carried over.

Without overtime, it is difficult to retain workers since they would move to other jobs with higher wages, he added.

Nguyen Van Nguyen, deputy manager at tile manufacturer Catalan Ceramics in the northern province of Bac Ninh, said workers "basically agree to work overtime" though he admits it is based only on anecdotal evidence.

Around 15 percent of the company's 800 workers contracted Covid-19 since Tet, and the remaining workers have agreed to work overtime to take up the slack, he said.

Extending working hours by one or two hours a day "does not affect the workers much" since their jobs, mostly as machine operators, are light, he said.

"We have yet to default on any contract, but we have had to refuse a lot of opportunities because of the labor shortage."

Le Dinh Quang, deputy chief of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor's socioeconomic policy and emulation department, said authorities should limit monthly overtime to 60 hours and not increase it to 72.

"Workers do not want to do overtime. They have to do it [only] to ... make ends meet."

Quang said increasing overtime limits is strictly a short-term measure to support recovery and only until the end of this year.

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