Labour law reform

Retirement age, overtime top lawmakers’ discussion on revised Labour Code

The draft revised Labour Code was brought to the National Assembly for discussion and is expected to get the green light from lawmakers in the next sitting in October 2019.

News | 19 June 2019
HANOI (ILO News) – Lawmakers debated primarily on the issues of increasing retirement age and overtime work hours at the National Assembly general discussion on the draft revised Labour Code on 13 June.

The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs proposed two options to raise retirement age, both to raise retirement age to 62 for men and 60 for women. The current retirement ages for men and women in Viet Nam are 60 and 55, respectively.

The Ministry argued that raising retirement age is needed as Viet Nam starts aging quickly.

Deputy Nguyen Thi Thu Ha, chairwoman of Viet Nam Women’s Union, said that raising retirement age allows women more time to advance in their career, considering that women have to bear the double burden of family and workplace. This will also improve women’s pension.

“Current retirement age was established nearly 60 years ago. Many socio-economic conditions have changed and this is the right time to raise retirement age,” Ha said.

She added that Viet Nam’s labour force is expected to increase by 200,000 workers every year in the next 15 years. Gradually raising retirement age will allow Viet Nam to cope with future labour shortage.

Lawmaker Nguyen Van Son agreed with the proposal to raise retirement age but emphasizing that such proposal needs to be flexible to allow workers who work in hazardous jobs to retire early.


Another important amendment to the Labour Code is to raise limit in overtime to 300-400 hours a year under special circumstances. Currently, a worker can work a maximum of 200 extra hours per year. In some specific areas like textiles and garments, leather, aquaculture processing, telecommunications, water and power supplies, overtime is capped at 300 hours per year.

Some lawmakers were opposed to the suggested increase, saying it would result in a work-life imbalance. They said that Viet Nam should develop policies for workers to improve productivity, work fewer hours with increased income and have more time to rest.

“It’s against the advancement of the society,” said Deputy Nguyen Thi Quyet Tam.

Labour Minister Dung said that increasing overtime limit is a real need. He added the government has proposed to apply the increased limit only for a small number of industries and for a certain time; and the public sector would be exempted.

The important changes in the draft revised Labour Code also include the right of workers to join or form a representative organization of their own choosing and definition of sexual harassment in the workplace. According to the bill, women are no longer prohibited from doing certain jobs, and legal protection is extended to employees who do not have a written employment contract.

The draft also has some improvements compared to the current Labour Code, namely better protection from anti-union discrimination and unions, clearer processes for collective bargaining, better protection against forced labour, and clearer rules on the employment of minors.

Draft amendments to the Labour Code will continue to be reviewed by the National Assembly at the year-end session in 2019.

Funding for the New Industrial Relations Framework project is provided by the United States Department of Labor under cooperative agreement number IL- 29690-16-75-K-11. This material does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the United States Department of Labor, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the United States Government. One hundred percentage of the total costs of the project or program is financed with Federal funds, for a total of 4 million dollars.