Kudos, brickbats greet proposal to double overtime limits
A labour ministry proposal to double the overtime limit for workers to 400 hours per year has evoked a mixed response from workers, and clear disagreement from some officials.
In draft revisions to the 2012 Labour Code, the Ministry of Labour, Invalid and Social Affairs has proposed that Vietnamese employees are allowed to work overtime for up to 400 hours per year.
The current limit is a maximum of 200 extra hours per year per worker, according to Article 106 of the 2012 Labor Code. In some specific areas like textiles and garments, leather, aquaculture processing, telecommunications, water and power supplies, overtime is capped at 300 hours per year.
The latest proposal came at the request of many enterprises who’ve argued for several years that more overtime is needed to improve production efficiency, increase workers’ incomes and raise the competitiveness of Vietnamese labour market.
A study by the ministry showed that the maximum number of overtime hours allowed in Viet Nam was currently 30 hours per month, much less than other countries in the region. The limit was 36 hours per month in China, 45 hours in Laos, 56 hours in Indonesia, 72 hours in Singapore, 104 hours in Malaysia, and no limit in Cambodia and the Philippines.
The ministry said its proposal sought to harmonise the benefits of enterprises and labourers, and boost the competitiveness of Viet Nam’s labour market to match other countries in the region.
Good and not-so-good
Several female workers felt overtime limits should not be increased by much because they needed time to take care of their children and families, the An ninh thu do (Capital Security) online newspaper reported.
It quoted Nguyen Thi Duyen, a female worker at the Bac Thang Long – Noi Bai Industrial Park as saying working overtime helped her increase her income, but she preferred to spend time for her children.
If the draft was approved, enterprises would have a legal basis to ask workers for more overtime work, she said.
Hoang Thu Hang, a female worker in an industrial park in Bac Ninh Province, applauded the proposal.
She said almost workers of industrial parks came from other provinces and had to cover their living expenses and save some money.
If the overtime limit was increased, she could earn more, Hang said.
Not good at all
Le Dinh Quang, deputy head of the Labour Relations Department under the Viet Nam General Confederation of Labour, said he did not agree with the proposal.
Quang said any increase in overtime limits should be carefully calculated to avoid the situation that enterprises take undue advantage of workers.
A representative of an export processing zone in Ha Noi said specific assessments of Vietnamese physical conditions had to be made before green lighting the proposal.
He said that workers at the processing zone had reported feeling faint as they worked. This meant they were suffering from high work intensity.
Other experts also advised caution about increasing overtime limits, saying workers needed enough time to rest so that they could reproduce their capacity.