Union calls for reduction of work week to below 48 hours

By Hong Chieu   December 3, 2023 | 11:57 pm PT
Union calls for reduction of work week to below 48 hours
Workers in a textile business in HCMC, November 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Tung
The Vietnamese Union is calling for a reduction in working hours for the private sector to below 48 hours per week, aiming to match the public sector's 40-hour workweek.

The proposal, discussed at a conference Sunday, aligns with a 2019 National Assembly resolution, it said.

Advocating for improved work-life balance, the union seeks government action to standardize work hours across sectors.

Current laws dictate that workers, in normal working conditions, will work no more than 8 hours a day and 48 hours a week. Businesses have the right to dictate daily and weekly working hours, but they must inform workers about them. The state encourages businesses to employ 40-hour working weeks.

Dang Tuan Tu, union head of the Changshin company, which employs 37,000 workers, said the road map to reduce weekly working hours to 40 hours was something that many workers wished for.

"I know this proposal is not new, but I still wish for authorities to care more about workers' health, besides regional minimum wages," Tu said.

In a National Assembly session in late October, delegate Pham Trong Nghia, voiced similar opinions. Nghia said that over the past 80 years, working hours in the private sector have not decreased, while overtime periods have tripled. Since 1999, workers in the public sector have been working 40 hours a week, while the private sector remained at 48 hours a week, even after numerous amendments to the labor law.

Vietnam has some of the longest working hours in Southeast Asia, while having some of the lowest number of holiday breaks, according to the Department of Work Safety in 2019. Specifically, yearly working hours for Vietnamese amount to around 2,320 hours, lower than the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand, but higher than Singapore, Indonesia, Laos and Cambodia.

Vietnam has 12 paid leave days a year by default, lower than Laos, Cambodia and Indonesia, but higher than Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines. Vietnam has 11 days of holiday breaks, equal to Singapore, but still considered to be among the lowest in Southeast Asia.

Besides reducing working hours, the Union is also proposing authorities consider adding two more days off for the National Day holiday, from September 2 to 5, so that workers can take their children to the ceremony to commemorate the beginning of the new school year.

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