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April 8, 2020

Draft Circular on Working Hours and Breaks for Seasonal Workers in Vietnam

Vietnam’s Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) is considering a draft circular that would change regulations on working hours, including overtime, and breaks required for seasonal manufacturing workers and workers that process goods according to orders. The new regulations, if passed, would replace the current regulations under Circular No. 54/2015/TT-BLDTBXH of MOLISA, which was issued on December 16, 2015, and it is envisioned that the new regulations would come into effect on January 1, 2021. MOLISA is accepting public comments on the draft regulations until April 24, 2020.

These draft regulations would apply to workers under definite-term (one to three years) and indefinite-term labor contracts in relation to:

  • Manufacturing in the agricultural, forestry, fishery, and salt production sector that is seasonal in nature and requires immediate harvesting or processing that cannot be delayed; and
  • Processing of goods according to orders that is dependent on the timing of the owner of the goods, including the garment and textile, leather and footwear, and electronics assembly sectors.

The draft regulations are geared toward requiring employers to make an annual plan for working hours that is agreed to in advance by the employer, the employees, and the union, and is reported to the local labor authorities. The purpose is to add clarity on working conditions and to allocate working hours, yet also meet the urgent demands and rush times of employers associated with seasonal and processing work.

The draft regulations provide a complex formula for determining an annual standard allocation of working hours for a position. The formula is based on the premise that an average working day is 8 hours of work per day for normal jobs, or 6 hours per day for especially strenuous, toxic or dangerous jobs.

Annually, employers will be required to make a plan to determine the standard working hours per day for each position. In the annual plan, the standard working hours per day can be:

  • 8 hours per day for normal jobs or 6 hours per day for especially strenuous, toxic and dangerous jobs;
  • Between 8 and 12 hours per day for normal jobs or between 6 and 9 hours per day for especially strenuous, toxic and dangerous jobs; or
  • Between 4 and 8 hours per day for normal jobs and between 3 and 6 hours per day for especially strenuous, toxic and dangerous job.

The total amount of standard hours in the annual plan shall not exceed the statutory limits set out in the draft regulations.

Under the draft regulations, for normal work, the amount of hours worked per day (both normal working hours and overtime hours) cannot exceed 12 hours. For especially strenuous, toxic or dangerous work, no one may work more than 9 hours per day. There are also weekly limits: The maximum hours worked per week cannot exceed 72 hours per week for normal work, and for especially strenuous, toxic or dangerous work, no one may work more than 54 hours per week. Each month, no one would be allowed to work more than 40 hours of overtime, and for those performing especially strenuous, toxic or dangerous work, the maximum amount of overtime per month is 30 hours. No workers may work more than 300 hours of overtime per year.

In regard to breaks, each worker must have at least one day off (24 straight hours) per week. In rush periods, if this cannot be met, the employer must give at least four days off per month.

For those working 10 hours or more per day, the employer must provide at least one 30-minute break, in addition to the normal breaks which are inclusive in the working hours.

The draft regulations provide that employers must arrange for workers to have holidays, Tet and annual leave off.

When making or adjusting annual plans for working hours, the employer must seek input from the local grassroots labor union. The annual plan must be announced to employees 30 days in advance, and consent of employees for overtime work is required. There are also requirements for the employer to report on the implementation of the plan to the local Department of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs.

For more information on the draft circular, please contact us at [email protected].

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