Vietnam to raise overtime caps next year

By Hoang Phuong   December 8, 2020 | 02:00 am PT
Vietnam to raise overtime caps next year
A garment worker at a factory in the northern Vinh Phuc Province, February 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh.
Vietnam has decided to increase maximum overtime hours for certain sectors to 40 per month and 300 per year, starting next year.

A Labor Law amendment will allow employers to increase overtime hours to 40 from the current cap of 30 hours. While it keeps the overtime cap for the year at 200, it allows extending the limit to 300 hours per year for businesses in salt making, electronics industry, textiles and garments export, footwear, agro-forestry processing, fisheries, electricity production and supply, telecommunications, oil refining, water supply and drainage.

The new cap of 300 hours per year can also be applied for jobs that require workers with specific skills and techniques or for seasonal jobs that have to be done urgently.

Other situations where employers can apply the new overtime cap are natural disaster responses, firefighting operations and other cases as stipulated by the government.

In special cases, the employers have the right to require employees to work overtime on any given day, without limits to the number of working hours, and the employees are not allowed to refuse.

For instance, when orders are executed for forces to be used to accomplish defense and security tasks and protect human lives and properties from natural disasters, fires and epidemics and other disasters, such requests must be complied with.

The amendment retains existing provisions on the night shift, which will run from 0 p.m. to 6 a.m., with employees allowed to break for 45 minutes. The break time is added into the working shift.

However, starting 2021, only those working for more than six hours straight during the night shift are allowed to add the break time to the shift.

When this amendment to the Labor Code was put on the table for discussion last year, Vietnamese lawmakers had opposed it, saying it will prevent workers from accessing opportunities to enjoy their lives.

But before the proposed amendment, foreign firms have long argued for raising the overtime limit, saying current limits were much lower than that of Vietnam's neighbors.

They said that the overtime limits, together with low labor productivity, was undermining their competitiveness and forcing them to increase the number of shifts during peak season, resulting in a substantial increase in labor costs.

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