Big gap remains from Tet, New Year bonus high of $52,300

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Vietnam's highest Tet and calendar New Year bonus for an individual this year as of December 27 was paid by a foreign-invested firm in Ho Chi Minh City at more than US$52,300.

The company, which is not named, paid the country's largest individual calendar New Year bonus at VND700 million ($33,300), which was reduced by 2.08 percent from the 2011 New Year.

A report by HCMC Department of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs showed that the average New Year bonus among foreign-invested firms in the city is VND3.89 million, with the lowest bonus at VND611,000 ($29).

Among businesses partly owned by the state, the New Year bonus ranged from VND89 million to VND453,000, up 15.58 percent. Private sectors are rewarding employees with bonuses of between VND88.246 million and VND910,000.

For the country's biggest holiday Tet, or Lunar New Year, which this year falls in the last week in January, the foreign-invested firm is also paying the country's highest bonus of VND400 million, followed by the bonus of VND356 million at firms with state shares, VND135 million at private firms and VND130 million at state-owned firms.

However, the lowest Tet bonus was also paid by another foreign-invested firm, of VND2,065 million, compared to the private firms' bonus low of VND2,154 million and state-owned firms' low of VND7,213 million.

Reports from a total of 958 businesses outside industrial zones and export processing zones in the city showed that banking, property and dairy firms are among those paying the highest bonuses this year. Businesses with large numbers of employees such as garment and textile companies are among the low-rewarders.

Around 148 businesses said they were having difficulties paying the rewards.

The top bonus from the zones come from a domestic firm with nearly VND100 million.

In Hanoi, the highest bonus of more than VND67.3 million is being paid by a private firm, while the average bonus at state-owned firms increased by 4.5 percent from last year to VND3.7 million, and the average bonus among foreign-invested firms was reduced to VND4.2 million.

More than 117,000 businesses are operating in Hanoi, including 97,000 domestic enterprises.

Dr. Tran Van Thien, head of the Human Resource Development Research Institute at HCMC University of Economics, said there remains a big gap among the high and low of bonuses in most sectors this year.

Thien said the gap is partly caused by different policies and viewpoints about the payment at the companies. He said some businesses consider the bonus a "cost," while others see it as "an investment into human resource development."

Labor unions at the businesses also help decide the amount of bonus employees receive, the expert said. "Some businesses do not even have a labor union, and the boss gives any payment that does not violate labor laws."

Thien said that the bonus "is basically the distributions of profits of the businesses."

Current laws require businesses to redistribute at least 10 percent of their net profit to employees, but many firms have created fake losses to reduce the bonus they have to pay, he said.

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