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71 percent of Vietnam workforce lacks social insurance

By Sen    December 27, 2018 | 11:12 pm PT
71 percent of Vietnam workforce lacks social insurance
Laborers work at a construction of a low rise building in Hanoi on April 20, 2018. Photo by AFP/Hoang Dinh Nam
Some 35 million Vietnamese workers do not have social insurance, especially those working in the informal sector or are not organized.

This is equivalent to around 71 percent of the workforce. A resolution adopted by the Party Central Committee has set a target of increasing it to 35 percent by 2021 and 60 percent by 2030.

Nguyen Thi Lua, a native of Thai Binh Province in northern Vietnam, said she moved to Hanoi to work as a domestic help five years ago. Her VND5 million monthly income ($215) goes to cover her living costs and rearing her children.

She had thought only retired officials and civil servants were entitled to pensions, and did not know that anyone could sign up for social insurance and get a pension after they retire.

Phu Nu Viet Nam quoted her as saying: "We do not know if those working [in the informal sector] as a domestic worker or street vendor can enroll in the social insurance program."

Pham Thi Hai Ha, deputy director of the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs’ Department of Social Protection, told the newspaper migrant workers, especially women, are an integral part of the workforce, participating in both the formal and informal economy and contributing significantly to the country's socio-economic development.

But she admitted they are also a disadvantaged and vulnerable group and social security has not covered them so far, especially those working in the informal economy.

Many migrant women workers are ignorant about social security and their rights.

Ministry statistics show there are more than 50 million people in the working age but 35 million of them, mostly rural residents, seasonal workers, self-employed workers, and others lack social insurance.

Vietnam's social insurance goal is to have all workers aged 15 and above covered, meaning 20 years from now everyone gets a pension in their old age.

Comparing this with health insurance, he said poor households are fully supported and children under six and elderly people are also taken care of.

Near-poor individuals get 70 percent support, which is set to be increased to 90 percent, thus achieving universal health insurance.

As for social insurance, the premium is high, but the government contributes only 30 percent support to poor people. Bui Sy Loi, deputy chairman of the National Assembly's Committee for Social Affairs, suggested that the Government should increase this level to encourage everyone to sign up for social insurance.

A study on "Social security rights of female migrant workers in Vietnam" done by the Department of Social Protection and Aid for Social Protection Program Foundation Vietnam last month found that migration trends are becoming feminized, with 52.4 percent of migrant workers being women in the 15-59 age group.

Among this group of female migrant workers, 97.9 percent who are informal workers do not have social insurance.

Only 21 percent of the workforce benefits from social insurance while social assistance policies cover only 10-15 percent of the population, mainly the poor and most vulnerable, according to the 2015 Vietnam Human Development Report.

Therefore, lower middle income groups who cannot spare the money needed to pay premiums fail to get any form of social insurance.

The report recommended that Vietnam should ensure a minimum level of cover in the form of universal health insurance, a self-financed social insurance system and expanded social assistance based on life cycle entitlements.

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