South Korean businesses in Vietnam have asked authorities to increase the maximum number of overtime hours a worker is permitted, but the labor ministry has refused on health grounds.
The businesses, most of them in textile and garment, woodwork, and processing, asked the ministry at a meeting last April to increase the number of extra hours to between 360 and 400 a year from the current 200-300, saying the cap is too low while many workers are not highly skilled.
They need to work longer to make up for their low productivity, they said.
Japanese and European businesses had made a similar demand earlier.
Vietnamese work 48 hours a week plus a maximum permitted 200 hours, and 300 in the textile, garment, wood and processing, water and power sectors and those in which work is time-bound.
But officials said Vietnamese workers already work hard compared to the global average.
Ha Tat Thang, head of the ministry’s Labor Safety Department, told news website VnExpress that Vietnamese workers' physical health cannot afford to work any more hours, that it would be exhausting and dangerous for them.
Many workers are already tired with long-running assembly lines and poor food, he said.
“The greater the work pressure, the higher the risk of workplace accidents.”
“The common world trend now is to reduce working hours, given the adverse impacts of working too much.”
He also dismissed the companies’ low-productivity argument, saying they need to provide more modern machinery and equipment.
Instead of asking their workers to work longer hours, employers should invest more in equipment, which would benefit both them and their workers, he said.