Vietnam tightens control of overseas employment

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Workers wait to take a flight to work abroad at Ho Chi Minh City's Tan Son Nhat Airport. Photo by Dao Ngoc Thach

Vietnam has issued new regulations standardizing overseas work contracts and setting ceilings for deposits that labor agencies require from workers before sending them to work abroad.

With the support of the International Labor Organization (ILO), the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) has issued two circulars, which will take effect December 1, to protect guest workers and minimize risks for labor agencies.

"The two circulars are essential as they help labor companies reach specific standards in signing contracts with international partners and workers to minimize risks for both companies and workers," Nguyen Luong Trao, chairman of the Vietnam Association of Manpower Supply, said.

"It's an important factor that contributes to sustainable enterprise development and safe migration."

Under the new rules, Vietnamese recruitment agencies will no longer be able to impose their own conditions on contracts. They will have to follow standard conditions, one of which requests companies to refund deposits to workers if they fail to send them abroad.

The standard contract also requires details such as references to a specific job, name and location of the receiving company, and establishes clear responsibilities of all parties, and procedures for dispute settlement in an effort to protect migrant workers in case of contract termination.

"Circular 22 prevents recruitment agencies from using provisions that benefit themselves while minimizing those in favor of migrant workers," Max Tunon, coordinator of the ILO's TRIANGLE project, said. TRIANGLE aims to make labor migration in the Greater Mekong Sub-region safer.

The other Circular 21 prevents recruitment agencies from requiring unreasonable deposits from workers applying to go abroad.

Tran Van Tu, director of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor's Policy Division, said the new circulars will help tackle unhealthy competition among labor agencies and "black costs" that workers have to pay to go abroad.

"But to achieve those goals, State authorities will need to step up inspections of labor companies," he said.

Currently, some 170 recruitment agencies are operating in Vietnam, sending 80,000 Vietnamese workers abroad every year.

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