What is it Like to Work in Vietnam?
Ho Chi Minh City is the economic capital of Vietnam and where many expats and Vietnamese locals choose to find work or set up a business. The city has become a target for many who want to live and work in Vietnam, due to a growing number of attractive job, business and networking opportunities. Here is some important information you need to know on what it’s like to work in Vietnam.
Employment Contracts in Vietnam
Work contracts are very straightforward in Vietnam and generally do not differ too much from their Western counterparts. When working abroad, in any other part of the world, the employer and employee must directly enter into a written employment contract. It is best to be specific and stringent with your employment contract as standards may differ across the globe. For temporary work of less than three months, an oral employment contract is allowed.
Some stipulations may differ from your contract in the west, you may want to turn your attention to very specific items in your contract such as your salary, health benefits and the like. Note that local companies must have employment contracts in both Vietnamese and English.
The most important factor to consider when working in a foreign country is how you’re getting paid. By default, you are going to get paid in Vietnamese Đồng. But you’re always free to ask if there is an option to be paid in a different currency, especially if you would like to take your hard-earned money out of the country.
Working Hours in Vietnam
The regular working hours in Vietnam is 8 hours a day or 48 hours a week. For unconventional jobs that follow schedules on a weekly basis instead of your regular 9-5 office hours, you cannot exceed 10 hours working in a day.
According to Vietnam’s labour law, the maximum number of working hours shall not exceed 48 hours a week. Working hours may be distributed on an hourly, daily or weekly basis subject to the employer’s requirements. These working schedules should be specified in your contract before starting with the work to avoid inconvenience to both parties.
As specified by the competent authorities, regular working hours must not exceed six hours a day for jobs that fall on the list of extremely heavy, toxic or dangerous working conditions.
Overtime work arrangements require the consent of both parties. Employees must compensate employees for any overtime hours worked and needs to be outlined in the employer’s internal labour rules. The amount of overtime cannot exceed 50% of regular working hours a day, 30 hours a month or 200 hours a year. Special cases can bump up the yearly hours to 300. For a weekly working regime, combined regular and overtime hours cannot exceed 12 hours a day.
The rates for overtime pay as required by the Labour Code are as follows:
- At least 150% of the agreed-upon salary on regular working days
- 200% for working on weekly days off
- 300% for working on public holidays and leave days with full pay
Women in their seventh month of pregnancy or later, or women who have babies 12 months old or younger, are forbidden from working overtime.
Night-time working hours or graveyard shifts run from 10 pm to 6 am of the subsequent day. Further, overtime cannot exceed 50% of regular working hours a day, 30 hours a month or 200 hours a year. Special cases can increase the yearly hours to 300. For those with a weekly working regime, combined regular and overtime hours are not allowed to exceed 12 hours a day.
An employee working at night must be paid an additional minimum of 30% of their regular salary when working overtime. Along with this, any employee working overtime at night must be paid an additional 20% of their salary in addition to the rates described above for work conducted in the daytime.
Arranging a probation period is common in Vietnam, especially with new employees. A probation period should be indicated in the contract or through a separate letter and the conditions for work should be specified and agreed to by the employer and employee.
The parties may agree on the following probationary periods:
- Up to 6 days for positions that require no training.
- Up to 30 days for trained staff or those with intermediate level qualification
- Up to 60 days for jobs requiring professional or college qualifications.
By law, the employer is only required to pay 85% of the full salary expectation during this period.
Employers in Vietnam must offer health insurance to all employees by law. Some companies offer more comprehensive packages in line with international standards.
Employee Rights in Vietnam
The current Labour Code went into effect on 1 May 2013 and introduced several changes that concerned labour subleasing, maternity leave, work permit duration and revised work hours, amongst others. In general, the new set of laws tends to favour employee rights and has made it harder for employers to terminate employment. We highlight some of the relevant changes below, though this is not a complete list:
- A probationary period does not exceed 30 days of employment with a position requiring vocational and professional level qualifications; 60 days of employment with a position requiring a college level qualification or above; and six days for all other cases.
- The wage for the probationary period is at least 85% of the wage scale rate of that position.
- The maximum validity of a work permit for a foreign employee is reduced from 36 months to 24 months.
- The annual Lunar Tết holiday will increase to five days from the original four.
- Maternity leave is increased to six months from the original four.
- The current labour code is now under review and changes are expected.
The number of expat jobs in Vietnam at the moment are not that high, but if you have experience in a certain field that requires your expertise then it shouldn’t be a problem at all. Take note that foreigners who want to work in Vietnam need to secure a work permit and the process can be tedious—something that the government is simplifying.
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