Labour law reform

Responding to consultation on Labour Code reform: Key points on gender and discrimination

The gender task force on the Labour Code reform of the United Nations in Viet Nam has issued key points on gender and discrimination as part of the public consultation on the Labour Code.

News | 15 January 2018
The gender task force on the Labour Code reform of the United Nations in Viet Nam has issued key points on gender and discrimination as part of the public consultation on the Labour Code. To make submission on the draft bill, please click here.

Reform of the Labour Law is urgently needed to remove or amend all provisions that currently discriminate against women, create an unequal playing field for women in the workplace and are in conflict with national and international commitments.

The Constitution of 2013 guarantees the rights of women and men to pursue prosperity. Article 16 also states clearly that no one can be subjected to discriminatory treatment in political, civil, economic, cultural or social life. The Labour Code must be amended to be brought in line with the Constitution.

To address the key areas of gender discrimination, it is necessary to:
  1. Provide for women and men to have the same retirement age, so women have the opportunity an equal chance to build up their skills over a full working life, progress in their work and earn a wage that matches their long experience. This will also enable women to contribute to the Vietnamese economy over a longer period and help to secure the sustainability of the social insurance fund.
  2. Include in the Labour Code a complete and clear definition of discrimination, plus a definition and provisions relating to sexual harassment, so the rights of women become clear and enforceable. Provisions should also include a prohibition against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
  3. Ensure the Labour Code makes clear the right of women and men to equal pay for work of equal value so that this right can be more easily enforced.
  4. Revise provisions that are erroneously included to “protect” women’s reproductive functions, but are discriminatory as they limit the jobs women can and cannot do without justification and feed into outdated and unfounded ideas about women’s strength and roles.
  5. Update provisions relating to time off for caring and family responsibilities because current provisions reflect and confirm very outdated attitudes to the strengths and roles of women and men. It is vital that the Labour Code promotes and makes it possible for both men and women to share family and caring responsibilities and benefit from flexibility in working conditions.
  6. Maintain limits on working hours and overtime for the health and welfare of all workers and their families and in alignment with the current provision in the Labour Code that employers should aim for a 40 hour week. As women currently bear the greatest burden of caring and household work, they have less flexibility to work longer days. If overtime limits are extended, as is being considered, women will suffer discrimination in recruitment and in earnings as well as be forced to take on an even greater burden at home with men working longer.
  7. Revise provisions relating to freedom of association and collective bargaining, in line with Conventions 87 and 98, so that workers and employers can operate independently and can negotiate wage levels and conditions of employment in good faith. This is a key to ensuring that all male and female workers can earn a living wage within regular working hours, so they are not forced to work long overtime hours simply to survive.
  8. Redefine the employment relationship in order to extend legal protection to a higher proportion of workers, including the large number of people, particularly women, who are working informally (without a contract) in both the formal and informal sectors.
It is important that MOLISA and the National Assembly now move forward with determination to carry out these important reforms for the sake of all women and men of Vietnam.