Tag Archives: labor law Vietnam

Update on draft new Labor Code for Vietnam

The Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) released another draft of the new Labor Code (the Draft Code) on 19 August 2019 with a view to improving the current Vietnamese legal framework by further aligning it with the overall development of the Vietnamese labor market, from both employer and employee’s perspectives.

The below highlights some of the key amendments being proposed in the Draft Code, together with some comments on the same based on long-standing practice in this sector in Vietnam.

PROPOSED CHANGE

 

OUR NOTES
Form of labor contract For the first time the execution of labor contract via electronic methods are formally recognized, e.g. emails.

 

On this basis, please kindly be advised that the agreed negotiations between Employer and Employee including without limitation to the job offer recorded via emails systems might be deemed as a binding contractual agreement, unless otherwise expressly repealed by the formal labor contract.

 

Prohibited acts Employer is prohibited to force the employee to perform a labor contract so that the employee can pay back an amount of debt that he/she borrows from the employer.

 

In other words, a loan that an employer grants to an employee shall constitute a separate civil-law relationship which is independent from the labor-law employment.
Type of labor contract To remove the seasonal labor contract. Namely, according to the Draft Code, there would be two types of labor contract: (i) definite term of up to 36 months; and (ii) indefinite term.

 

We however note that there exist some different schemes for labor contract of less than 12 months and labor contract of 12-36 months, such as prior notice in case of unilaterally termination.
Contents of labor contract To allow parties to agree on the non-disclosure agreement including rights, obligations and compensation in case of breaches.

 

This proposal adds extra protections for employers. Nevertheless, there remains no regulation on non-competition or non-solicitation agreements in the Draft Code as currently drafted.

 

Probationary period To add a special category of ‘enterprise manager’ who may be subject to a probationary period of up to 180 days (instead of the 60 day max under current law).

 

We note that the definition of ‘enterprise manager’ will be in line with Law on Enterprises.
Unilateral termination by employer To add three circumstances in which an employer can unilaterally terminate a labor contract:

 

(i)        if employee reaches his/her statutory retirement age;

(ii)       if employee is absent from work for 5 consecutive working days without a proper reason;

(iii)      if employee provides false info (e.g. qualifications) for the purpose of recruitment.

 

At first glance, this would grant employer with extra lawful grounds for the purpose of unilateral termination. It is however recommended that the employer should await further guidance in detail for the purpose of implementation.
Time frame for payment of termination package According to the Draft Code, employer would have 14 working days from the date of termination for the purpose of termination package payment.

 

The doubles the current requirement of 7 working days.
Salary payment Employers are obliged to provide employees a monthly pay slip to breakdown the differences between net and gross salary amounts at the time of salary payment.

 

 

By this approach, the drafting team is trying to build up the transparent regime of remuneration payment which can help to enable an employee to be aware of the social insurance, health insurance and unemployment insurance contributions, personal income tax and other withholding amounts from his/her gross salary, if any.

 

Form of salary payment To pay salary in cash is formally recognized without any restrictions.

 

This requires further guidance from the Government as it would prima facie conflict with certain mandatory accounting-related requirements.

 

Overtime payment There are two options:

 

(i)        Option 1: to remain same, i.e. 150%, 200%, and 300% for regular day, weekly days off and public holidays respectively; or

 

(ii)       Option 2: to increase the overtime payment, i.e. up to 180%, up to 240%, and up to 360% for regular day, weekly days off and public holidays respectively.

 

At the time of this Draft Code, the drafting team is carefully considering these two options. The latter is undoubtedly more preferable from the employee’s perspective.

 

Putting that aside, the Draft Code is proposing to increase annual overtime cap into 400 hours (from current 300 hours).

Annual leave calculation The principle of pro-rata calculation is formally recognized by the law for those who do not work for 12 months in full. This widely-accepted practice in Vietnam looks set to be formally reflected in the new law.
Labor Discipline If the violation is clearly stated in the labor code or the labor contract, employer can still apply labor discipline [in the absence of the (registered) internal labor regulations (the ILR)].

 

 

This would be a major change.  We currently presume however that it may be intended only to apply to employers with less than 10 employees that are not required by law to have and register ILR.

 

Labor contract term for expat employee The Draft Code is saying that expat can enter into a number of consecutive definite-term labor contracts, term of which must be in line with that of the work permit (the WP).

 

 

That is to say, the indefinite-term labor contract is not applicable to expat employees.

 

WP exemption category To add extra condition for WP exemption subject. Specifically, owner or capital contribution member of a limited company would be exempted from WP requirement only if his/her/their ownership value in the company (employer) reaches VND 1 billion (equivalent to US$42,750).

 

This is likely aimed at a loophole where expat employees are granted ‘super minority’ shareholder status in order to enjoy WP exemption.

 

This amendment is to minimize the aforesaid legal gap. In other words, WP exemption is a statutory entitlement applicable to ‘true’ shareholders/ owners only.

 

WP extension WP can be extended once, for another additional term of maximum 2 years.

 

Under current law, WP re-issuance is required upon expiration with cumbersome paperwork.

 

Subject to further guidance on the extension procedure, it is hoped this will reduce admin burden on employers.

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For more information about labor laws in Vietnam please contact Giles at Gtcooper@duanemorris.com or Nhan Le at Ntle@duanemorris.com

Compulsory Social Insurance for expats working in Vietnam – who’s in and who’s out?

Ever since the Law on Social Insurance[1] was issued in late 2014, employees and employers have been on notice that “expat employees working in Vietnam” will be required to participate in the State’s compulsory social insurance (SI) regime “from 2018”.  2018 came however with no further clarity around the details.

In October 2018, the Government issued Decree no. 143/2018/ND-CP[2] guiding the Law on SI and providing that “Employees who are expats working in Vietnam shall be required to participate in the SI program if they obtain work permits, practicing certificates, practicing licenses issued in Vietnam, indefinite-term employment contracts or employment contracts valid for at least one year with employers in Vietnam.” (Article 2.1). Also in the same decree, several exceptions from SI participation are listed, including intra-company transferees and expats reaching retirement age.

According to the statistics of the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs (“MOLISA”), 64% of applicable expats working in Vietnam joined the SI scheme under Decree 143[3]. Having said that, there remains confusion amongst both employers and expats employees as to the subjects of application of the law.

Finally, on 18 March 2019, MOLISA issued Official Letter no. 1064/LDTBXH-BHXH[4] clarifying the issue of exactly which expats will be required and not required to participate into the Vietnam-law SI scheme.

Specifically, expat employees working in Vietnam must satisfy all of the following criteria in order to be applicable for the SI scheme:

SI ELIGIBILITY CONDITIONS FOR EXPATS

 

NOTES
Nationality Non-Vietnamese nationals working in Vietnam An overseas Vietnamese national entering Vietnam to work via his/her passport of a foreign country would be deemed as a non-Vietnamese national working in Vietnam.

 

Licenses Work permits, practicing certificates, practicing licenses issued by the competent authority in Vietnam

 

As a side note, a work permit issued for
an expat entering Vietnam to supply services to a Vietnam-based entity would not fall under this category. 
Employment Indefinite-term or at least one-year definite-term labor contract with a Vietnam-based employer. We are of the view that a definite-term labor contract (from 12 to 24 months) would suffice in this regard.

 

It is worth noting that term of expat’s labor contract must be in line with term of his/her valid work permit, which is maximum 24 months from a theoretical perspective.

 

Age Men: Under 60 years old

Women: Under 55 years old

Please kindly be advised that these retirement ages are being proposed to increase to 62 for male and 60 for female according to the draft of new labor code.

 

Others NOT falling under the scope of statutory intra-company transferees, i.e. any expat managers, chief executive officers, experts and technicians, who have been employed by the offshore enterprise for at least 12 months and are temporarily re-assigned/ seconded to its Vietnam-based commercial presence (e.g. subsidiary, representative office, or branch). Frankly speaking, an expat deemed an intra-company transferee with his/her work permit exemption certificate would be NOT eligible to attend the SI scheme.

For ease of reference, timeline and ratio for SI contributions applicable to both employer and expat employees under Decree 143 please see the table below.

In short, employers who hire expat employees would have to bear an extra liability to ‘part’ pay SI from 1 December 2018 and to ‘fully’ pay SI from 1 January 2022 while the relevant expat employees will NOT commence contributing to the scheme until 1 January 2022.

Sickness and Maternity Labor Accident and Occupation Disease Pension

and

Death Allowance

Total
Since

1 December 2018

Employer 3% 0.5% 0% 3.5%
Expat Employee 0% 0% 0% 0%
Since

1 January 2022

Employer 3% 0.5% 14% 17.5%
Expat Employee 0% 0% 8% 8%

Importantly, please also note that there is a statutory maximum cap for all SI contribution, as with caps applicable to Vietnamese employees, if the expat employee’s actual gross salary is higher than the maximum cap, the cap becomes the basis of the % calculation. Specifically, in light of SI, the basis for % calculation would be (i) the actual gross salary OR (ii) 20 times of ‘Base Salary[5], whichever is lower. Accordingly, such cap shall apply equally to both the employer % contribution and the employee % contribution.

 

[1] Law on Social Insurance no. 58/2014/QH13 dated 20 November 2014 (“Law on Social Insurance”)

[2] Decree no. 143/2018/ND-CP dated 15 October 2018, elaborating on Law on Social Insurance and Law on Occupational Safety and Hygiene regarding compulsory social insurance for employees who are foreign nationals working in Vietnam (“Decree 143”)

[3] http://thoibaotaichinhvietnam.vn/pages/tien-te-bao-hiem/2019-03-20/hon-64-lao-dong-nuoc-ngoai-da-tham-gia-bhxh-bat-buoc-69060.aspx

[4] Official Letter no. 1064/LDTBXH-BHXH issued by the MOLISA dated 18 March 2019

[5] ‘Base Salary’ is a measure set by the Vietnamese government from time to time. The current Base Salary applicable since 1 Jan 2019 is VND 1,390,000 / month, corresponding to a monthly cap of VND 27,800,000. However, it is worth noting that the Base Salary will change effective 1 July 2019 to VND 1,490,000, corresponding to a monthly cap of VND 29,800,000.

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For more information about labor laws in Vietnam please contact Giles at Gtcooper@duanemorris.com or Nhan Le  at NTLe@duanemorris.com