More overtime, less happiness?

The average working day for bank worker Pham Hong Nhung in Hanoi normally starts at 7am and ends at around 8pm.

More overtime, less happiness?
Illustrative image -- File photo

“My bank opens at 8am but I have to arrive earlier to prepare the cash. When the branch closes, my colleagues and I have to deal with paperwork, so we work up to 12 hours per day.”

As well as working five and a half days per week, she sometimes has to attend events on Saturday evening or even on Sunday.

“I am exhausted, to be honest. Both my health and looks are going downhill. I can't take proper care of my family as well. My son is only one and is not at nursery school yet, so I have to hire a nanny. My son might be even closer to her than me,” the 28-year-old says.

Nhung revealed that bank clerks and other positions at the bank are also busy and overtime is seen as a routine for them.

“Sometimes I even have to go to the office on weekends and national holidays,” says 30-year-old Hoang Lan Phuong, who works for a commercial bank in Hanoi, adding she is too busy to find her Mr Right and think about getting married.

Banking staff are among many in Vietnam who regularly work extra hours, along with doctors, journalists and IT engineers.

According to recent statistics on average annual working hours in selected cities conducted by UBS Group, Hanoi was in second place with 2,691 hours on average per year, after Mumbai with 3,315 hours per year.

Currently, Vietnam’s basic working hours are 48 hours a week, higher than many countries in the region and the world.

While Vietnam claims the dubious top spot for working hours, the country ranks in the second half of World Happiness Report 2019 produced by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

Vietnam stands 94th of the 156 countries surveyed, and sixth in Southeast Asia, behind Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

So is there any correlation between long working hours and the low happiness index?

Recently, the issue of working hours was raised during discussions for the revised Labour Code. National Assembly deputies had opposing opinions with regards to reducing working hours.

Secretary of the HCM City Party and Politburo member Nguyen Thien Nhan said only a few countries allowed more than 40 working hours per week.

Labourers in most countries work less than 40 hours per week, like Chile (37 hours), France (38.5 hours) and particularly Germany (26 hours), but those countries have some of the highest rates of productivity.

Nhan argued that Vietnam should develop a plan to reduce the working week from 48 to 40 hours a week in the next ten years, and 44 hours per week in the short-term. However, even when Vietnam’s working hours have been cut, the country would still lag behind others for around 80 years, he said.

“In terms of economics, everyone aspires to have a job, an income and a house. In terms of domestic issues, 95.4 per cent of interviewees hope to have a happy family, 73 per cent want well-behaved and progressive children, while 60 per cent just want to be healthy,” he said.

“But a person working from nine to ten hours per day could not have a happy family,” he confirmed.

According to the secretary of HCM City Party, the increase in productivity demands technological and device innovation as well as the decrease in working hours, not the vice versa.

 

Another issue that Nhan mentioned was a regulation that limits overtime to 300 hours per year.

He said that in the short-term, employers would benefit and employees could earn extra money; however, the health consequences would lead to a decline in productivity.

“There are 52 weeks in a year. After subtracting their holidays, workers have to be on the job for 50 weeks, with six extra working hours per week and one extra hour per day.

“How can workers stay healthy doing nine hours a day, 12 months a year?” he said.

However, many specialists do not support the idea of cutting overtime.

According to Professor Vu Thanh Tu Anh from Fulbright University, Vietnam’s economy had the advantage of large-scale cheap labour.

“Limiting overtime could lead to labour shortages and make employees lazy. Employers and employees could also find ways to dodge the law, which would cause unexpected expenses to the economy.

“In other cases, how about skillful workers who wish to earn extra money, share their knowledge and experience, or the poor who want to earn extra money to support their families?” he questioned.

“Authorities are concerned labourers are being over-exploited by working overtime, but we have labour contracts that need to be enforced instead of issuing additional regulations.”

Tran Thi Lan Anh, assistant secretary-general of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, argued that some professions like IT and product development take more time, even overtime hours. If the work isn't finished, sometimes people have to work from home.

“The proposed regulations to tighten working hours might affect large-scale manufacturing enterprises and production lines," she said.

The National Assembly Standing Committee said reducing normal working hours was a matter of national concern, but it had not yet completed an evaluation of the impacts.

On top of that, the proposal has not been approved by the drafting agency or employers. Therefore, more time is needed to fully assess the impacts, as well as more time for the preparation and adaptation process for the economy.

For the time being, employees will still have to work overtime to meet the demands of their jobs and their own financial needs.

“I just want to spend more time with my family and to spend the money I earn from working overtime,” Nhung says. VNS

 Phuong Ha

Vietnamese businesses concerned about overtime hour draft law

Vietnamese businesses concerned about overtime hour draft law

Businesses and experts are still concerned over the impact on production of overtime hours that are not increased for seasonal jobs.

Vietnamese firms want higher maximum level for overtime work

Vietnamese firms want higher maximum level for overtime work

Seafood companies said because of the seasonality of the industry, organizing extra working shifts is a must to fulfill orders, though they have to pay more for overtime work.

 
 

Other News

.
Vietnam determined to remove EC’s yellow card fishing warning by 2022
Vietnam determined to remove EC’s yellow card fishing warning by 2022
SOCIETYicon  14/07/2021 

Vietnam is determined to gradually reduce the number of fishing vessels violating regulations on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in order to have the ‘yellow card’ issued by the European Commission (EC) removed by 2022.

Health ministry releases Pfizer allocation plan, suggests vaccine mixing
Health ministry releases Pfizer allocation plan, suggests vaccine mixing
SOCIETYicon  14/07/2021 

Deputy Minister of Health Truong Quoc Cuong has just signed a decision on the allocation plan of 746,460 doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to provinces, cities and hospitals across the country.

Vietnam now has sufficient resources for mass COVID-19 vaccination
Vietnam now has sufficient resources for mass COVID-19 vaccination
SOCIETYicon  14/07/2021 

Vietnam has gained sufficient resources for purchasing 150 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine and conduct vaccination for the entire people, according to President of the Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF) Central Committee Do Van Chien.

Number of cases rises due to extensive testing in HCM City’s high-risk areas
Number of cases rises due to extensive testing in HCM City’s high-risk areas
SOCIETYicon  14/07/2021 

The number of COVID-19 cases in HCM City is expected to continue to rise due to extensive testing in high-risk areas such as export processing zones, industrial parks, hi-tech zones and rented apartments.

Hanoians adapt to disruptions caused by COVID-19
Hanoians adapt to disruptions caused by COVID-19
SOCIETYicon  14/07/2021 

As Hanoi started to impose stricter social distancing measures yesterday, locals say they are getting used to and learning to adapt to disruptions caused by the pandemic.

Five more COVID-19-related deaths announced
Five more COVID-19-related deaths announced
SOCIETYicon  13/07/2021 

The National Steering Committee on COVID-19 Prevention and Control’s Treatment Sub-Committee on July 13 announced five more deaths related to COVID-19, bringing the total number of fatalities to 130.

Employees of foreign NGOs in Vietnam vaccinated against COVID-19
Employees of foreign NGOs in Vietnam vaccinated against COVID-19
SOCIETYicon  14/07/2021 

More than 1,000 employees of foreign non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Hanoi, including over 100 foreigners, received COVID-19 vaccine shots on July 13.

How to register for your COVID-19 vaccine for Vietnamese and foreigners
How to register for your COVID-19 vaccine for Vietnamese and foreigners
SOCIETYicon  14/07/2021 

Vietnamese nationals and foreigners can now register online for COVID-19 vaccines, according to Nguyen Truong Nam, Deputy Head of the Information Technology Department of the Ministry of Health.

Mobile apps help city to fight Covid-19
Mobile apps help city to fight Covid-19
SOCIETYicon  14/07/2021 

Due to the complexity of the latest Covid-19 outbreak in HCM City, residents have been asked to download and install the apps named ‘Y Tế HCM’ and ‘Tổng đài 1022’ on their iOS or Android devices for ease of health declaration and information updates.

HCM City prepares for new life after social distancing
HCM City prepares for new life after social distancing
FEATUREicon  13/07/2021 

From July 9, Ho Chi Minh City entered 15 days of social distancing under Directive 16 of the Prime Minister. This is a valuable time for Vietnam’s largest metropolis to find new strategies to 'live together' with the Covid-19 epidemic.

Gov’t gives HCM City priority for upcoming vaccinations, close contacts isolate at home
Gov’t gives HCM City priority for upcoming vaccinations, close contacts isolate at home
SOCIETYicon  13/07/2021 

HCM City, the country’s COVID epicentre, will be given priority for COVID-19 vaccines, with 25 per cent of the total vaccine doses received in July going to the city, according to Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh.

Hanoi shuts in-person dining, barbershops starting July 13
Hanoi shuts in-person dining, barbershops starting July 13
SOCIETYicon  12/07/2021 

Hanoi will once again enforce further restrictions on non-essential services in response to growing risks of COVID-19 transmission from arrivals from outbreak-hit regions as well as insufficient public observance of COVID prevention measures.

Daily count sets new record high at 2,383, HCM City’s tally passes 14,770 in new wave
Daily count sets new record high at 2,383, HCM City’s tally passes 14,770 in new wave
SOCIETYicon  12/07/2021 

An additional 609 people tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus during the past six hours to 6 pm July 12, thereby raising the daily infection count to more than 2,383.

VIETNAM NEWS HEADLINES JULY 13
VIETNAM NEWS HEADLINES JULY 13
SOCIETYicon  13/07/2021 

Home-quarantine to be piloted nationwide

Four more deaths related to COVID-19 confirmed
Four more deaths related to COVID-19 confirmed
SOCIETYicon  12/07/2021 

Four more deaths related to COVID-19 were announced by health authorities Monday morning, including two people in their forties.

High-school final exams are over as families sigh with relief
High-school final exams are over as families sigh with relief
FEATUREicon  13/07/2021 

At 3.30 pm July 8, the time for the English exam, the last exam for the 2021 high school finals ended, and the exam organizers felt relieved. 

Hanoi reports 10 new COVID-19 cases, releases list of locations they visited
Hanoi reports 10 new COVID-19 cases, releases list of locations they visited
SOCIETYicon  12/07/2021 

The Hanoi Centre for Disease Control (HCDC) recorded 10 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday morning, including two cases relating to SEI Company and eight cases related to people returning to the capital from HCM City.

All resources mobilised to help HCM City cope with 50,000 infection scenario
All resources mobilised to help HCM City cope with 50,000 infection scenario
SOCIETYicon  12/07/2021 

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh has affirmed that all resources are being mobilised in order to help Ho Chi Minh City combat the COVID-19 pandemic, with the southern metropolis asked to prepare for a possible infection scenario of up to 50,000.

VIETNAM NEWS HEADLINES JULY 12
VIETNAM NEWS HEADLINES JULY 12
SOCIETYicon  12/07/2021 

Additional 1,112 COVID-19 cases reported during July 12 morning

Vietnam does not discriminate over vaccinations
Vietnam does not discriminate over vaccinations
SOCIETYicon  12/07/2021 

Vietnam's expat community has been reassured they will not be left behind when it comes to COVID-19 vaccinations.

 
 
 
Leave your comment on an article

OR QUICK LOGIN