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Discover everything you need to know about Vietnam

Hire in Vietnam at a glance

Here ares some key facts regarding hiring in Vietnam

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Overview in Vietnam

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Vietnam, located in Southeast Asia on the Indochinese Peninsula, shares borders with China, Laos, and Cambodia and has a long coastline along the South China Sea. The country features diverse terrain including coastal lowlands, mountains, and fertile river deltas from the Red and Mekong Rivers. It experiences a tropical climate with regional variations.

Historically, Vietnam has undergone periods of foreign domination, notably by China and later France, leading to a mix of cultural influences. Post-colonial Vietnam saw significant conflict during the Vietnam War, which resulted in devastation and displacement, but ended with reunification under communist rule in 1976. Economic reforms known as Đổi Mới were introduced in 1986, transitioning Vietnam towards a market-oriented economy while maintaining a one-party system.

Economically, Vietnam has evolved from one of the poorest countries to a lower-middle-income nation, driven by manufacturing, exports, and foreign investment. Agriculture remains important, but industrial and service sectors are growing. The country faces challenges such as ensuring job creation for its young population and managing rapid urbanization.

Vietnam's workforce is youthful and increasingly urban. While agriculture continues to employ a significant portion of the population, there is a shift towards industrial and service sectors, with Vietnam becoming a major manufacturing hub. The informal sector is large, and efforts are underway to formalize it for better worker protection.

Culturally, Vietnam values seniority and indirect communication, emphasizing harmony and personal connections in business. Workplaces are hierarchical, and while there is a strong work ethic, there is also a growing desire among younger generations for better work-life balance.

Challenges for Vietnam include aligning education with market needs, expanding the formal economy, and balancing traditional work values with modern expectations. The country is also focusing on reducing reliance on labor-intensive industries and developing higher-value sectors like technology and tourism to sustain economic growth.

Taxes in Vietnam

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  • Personal Income Tax (PIT): Employers must withhold PIT from employees' salaries at rates from 5% to 35% and pay it monthly by the 20th of the following month. They also handle annual PIT finalization.

  • Social Security Contributions: Employers contribute 17.5% for Social Insurance, 3% for Health Insurance, and 1% for Unemployment Insurance based on the employee's monthly salary.

  • Trade Union Fee: Employers withhold and pay a 1% trade union fee from the salaries of union member employees.

  • Employee Contributions: Employees contribute 8% to Social Insurance, 1.5% to Health Insurance, and 1% to Unemployment Insurance.

  • Personal and Dependent Allowance Deductions: Taxpayers receive a monthly deduction of VND 11 million, and VND 4.4 million for each dependent.

  • Charitable Contributions Deduction: Deductions available for donations to approved charities.

  • Value Added Tax (VAT): Standard rate is 10%, with reduced rates of 5% and 0% for specific services. Certain services are VAT exempt. VAT compliance is mandatory for businesses exceeding specific revenue thresholds.

  • Corporate Income Tax (CIT): Standard rate is 20%, with preferential rates of 10% and 17% for specific sectors and conditions. Tax holidays and reductions are available based on factors like industry, location, and investment size.

  • Incentives: Various incentives include preferential CIT rates, tax holidays, and import duty exemptions for eligible businesses based on location, investment size, and sector.

Leave in Vietnam

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Vietnam's labor laws provide employees with various leave entitlements, ensuring they have time for rest and personal matters. Under the Vietnamese Labor Code (2019), employees with at least a year of service are entitled to a minimum of 12 working days of fully paid annual leave, with additional days for those under 18, with disabilities, or working in hazardous conditions. Leave increases by one day every five years of service. Pro-rated leave is available for those with less than a year of service.

Employers must consult employees on the scheduling of leave to balance individual preferences and business needs. During leave, employees receive their regular wages. Vietnam also celebrates numerous public holidays, including Tết Nguyên Đán (Lunar New Year), Hung Kings Commemoration Day, Reunification Day, International Labor Day, and National Day, among others. Some holidays, like International Women's Day and Vietnamese Teachers' Day, are observed but may not provide a day off for all.

Sick leave entitlements are determined by social insurance contributions, ranging from 30 to 180 days, with varying payment rates. Maternity leave is six months, fully paid by social insurance, with additional time for multiple births. Other types of leave include bereavement and marriage leave. Employers may offer more generous leave policies than the statutory minimums, which should be detailed in the employment contract.

Benefits in Vietnam

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Mandatory Employee Benefits Overview:

  • Social Security: Provides income for retirement, disability, or unemployment with varying contribution rates and eligibility.
  • Healthcare: May involve employer contributions to national health insurance or direct provision of health insurance.
  • Paid Leave: Includes annual leave, public holidays, sick leave, and maternity (sometimes paternity) leave.

Other Mandatory Benefits:

  • Workman's Compensation Insurance: Financial support for work-related injuries or death.
  • Unemployment Insurance: Financial assistance for job loss.
  • Severance Pay: Compensation upon employment termination under certain conditions.

Resources for Compliance:

  • Government Websites: For detailed information on labor regulations.
  • National Social Security Administration: For specifics on social security contributions and benefits.
  • Employer Federation Websites: Resources on compliance with employee benefits.

Vietnam-Specific Benefits:

  • Financial Benefits: Includes 13th-month bonus, performance incentives, housing, and transportation allowances.
  • Health and Wellness Benefits: Options for private health insurance and fitness programs.
  • Work-Life Balance Benefits: Flexible work arrangements and additional paid leave.
  • Other Optional Benefits: Meal allowances, company events, and professional development opportunities.

Vietnam's Health Insurance:

  • Mandatory Social Health Insurance: Required for employees under contracts over three months with a combined contribution rate of 4.5% of salary.
  • Optional Private Health Insurance: Offers broader coverage and access to private healthcare providers.

Vietnam's Retirement Savings:

  • Mandatory Public Scheme (Social Insurance - SI): Provides a basic pension with a combined contribution rate of 22% of salary.
  • Optional Private Pension Plans: Defined-contribution plans offering potentially higher returns and greater investment choice.
  • Personal Pension Plans: Voluntary plans with licensed financial institutions, offering additional retirement savings options.

Choosing the Right Retirement Plan: Depends on individual risk tolerance, desired retirement lifestyle, and investment goals.

Workers Rights in Vietnam

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Vietnam's Labor Code (No. 45/2019/QH14) outlines the regulations for employment termination, discrimination, working conditions, and workplace safety. Employers can dismiss employees for reasons such as poor performance, economic issues, or prolonged illness, with varying notice requirements based on contract type. Discrimination is prohibited on multiple grounds, and employees can seek redress through internal grievance procedures, the Labour Inspectorate, or the courts. The Labor Code also sets a standard workweek and outlines employer obligations for a safe working environment, including risk assessments and providing personal protective equipment. Employees have rights to refuse unsafe work and participate in safety initiatives. Enforcement is primarily managed by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) and the social insurance agency.

Agreements in Vietnam

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Vietnam's labor law distinguishes between two primary types of employment contracts: indefinite-term and fixed-term contracts, each with specific characteristics and regulations.

Indefinite-Term Employment Contracts:

  • These contracts do not specify an end date and continue until legally terminated by either party.
  • They require adherence to certain notice periods and may involve severance payments.
  • Employees under these contracts typically enjoy greater job security and comprehensive benefits like social and health insurance, and paid leave.

Fixed-Term Employment Contracts:

  • These are divided into contracts up to 36 months and those for specific jobs or seasonal work.
  • Contracts up to 36 months can be renewed once; a second renewal converts them to indefinite-term contracts.
  • Specific job or seasonal contracts are usually non-renewable and have shorter durations and minimal notice periods for termination.

Core Components of Employment Agreements:

  • Essential elements include identification of parties, job description, compensation and benefits, working hours, leave entitlements, and termination clauses.
  • Additional clauses might cover confidentiality, intellectual property rights, conflict of interest, and dispute resolution.

Probation Periods:

  • The duration of probation periods varies based on the job's complexity, ranging from 6 working days to 180 days.
  • During probation, salaries must be at least 85% of the full wage, and either party can terminate the agreement without notice or compensation.

Confidentiality and Non-Compete Clauses:

  • Confidentiality clauses protect sensitive business information.
  • Non-compete clauses, which are less clearly enforceable under Vietnamese law, aim to prevent employees from joining competitors post-employment. Their reasonableness, the employee's seniority, and potential compensation during the restricted period are key factors in their enforceability.

Remote Work in Vietnam

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Working Hours in Vietnam

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  • Standard Working Hours: Vietnamese labor law limits normal working hours to 8 hours per day and 48 hours per week, with encouragement for a 40-hour workweek to promote work-life balance.

  • Overtime Compensation: Overtime must be compensated at a minimum of 30% above the regular wage rate on normal days and 200% on rest days. The monthly overtime limit is 40 hours, with an annual cap of 200 hours, extendable to 300 hours in certain industries.

  • Youth Labor: Employees aged 15 to under 18 are not allowed to work overtime exceeding standard working hours.

  • Rest Periods: Employees working at least 6 hours a day are entitled to a 30-minute paid rest break. Additionally, all employees must receive at least 24 consecutive hours off per week, or an average of 4 days off per month in certain industries.

  • Night and Weekend Work: Night work (10 PM to 6 AM) qualifies for an additional 30% compensation. Employees working on weekends must receive extra pay, and employers must ensure suitable conditions for night shifts.

Salary in Vietnam

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Vietnam's growing economy necessitates competitive salaries to attract and retain top talent. A market competitive salary aligns with the prevailing market rate based on job title, location, and experience level, considering factors like job responsibilities, industry standards, and cost of living in urban versus rural areas. Larger companies often offer more competitive salaries and benefits.

Resources such as salary surveys, job boards, and recruitment agencies help determine competitive salaries. The National Minimum Wage sets a baseline for salaries in state-owned enterprises, while Regional Minimum Wages vary across different areas, reflecting socio-economic conditions and cost of living.

Employers must comply with minimum wage laws, and violations can lead to fines. Beyond base salaries, employers enhance compensation packages with bonuses and allowances, including the customary 13th-month bonus, performance-based bonuses, and various allowances for housing, transportation, and meals.

Mandatory benefits in Vietnam include social insurance and paid time off, while discretionary bonuses and allowances cater to employee motivation and loyalty. Understanding employee preferences for financial security and professional development is crucial for employers to maintain a competitive edge in the job market.

Payroll practices in Vietnam typically involve monthly payments through electronic fund transfers, with statutory deductions for income tax and social security contributions. Employers must adhere to a payroll processing timeline that includes tracking work hours, calculating salaries, and remitting taxes and social security contributions.

Termination in Vietnam

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In Vietnam, employment termination and severance pay are regulated by the Labor Code of Vietnam (2019). The Code mandates minimum notice periods for both employers and employees, with specific durations based on the type of contract. For indefinite term contracts or fixed-term contracts over 12 months, a 120-day notice is required. Contracts less than 12 months require a notice of at least one quarter of the contract term, while definite term contracts ending naturally require no notice.

Exceptions to these notice periods include immediate dismissal for serious violations such as fraud or work abandonment. Employers may opt for payment in lieu of notice, and written notice must always be provided, detailing the termination reason and effective date.

Severance pay eligibility includes involuntary termination due to organizational changes, economic difficulties, or health issues, and under certain conditions, resignation. However, severance pay is not due for dismissals due to serious disciplinary violations, voluntary resignation without legitimate reason, or the natural expiration of fixed-term contracts. Severance pay calculation is based on half a month's salary for each year of employment, with payment due within seven days of contract termination.

Termination procedures include mutual agreement, termination with notice, summary dismissal, and termination due to force majeure or contract expiry. Proper documentation and adherence to legal requirements, such as consulting labor unions and settling final payments promptly, are crucial. Employees may contest terminations through local labor authorities or courts. Employment contracts and collective labor agreements may provide specific terms but must align with the Labor Code. Legal advice is recommended for complex termination cases.

Freelancing in Vietnam

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  • Control and Supervision: Employees in Vietnam are under the control of their employers, who dictate working conditions and methods. Independent contractors, however, operate with greater autonomy and are not subject to such direct oversight.

  • Contractual Relationship: Employees must have a formal labor contract as per Vietnamese law, detailing employment specifics like salary and working hours. Contracts for contractors are optional but recommended to define work scope and payment terms without implying an employer-employee relationship.

  • Social Insurance and Benefits: Employers must enroll employees in social insurance for various benefits, whereas contractors handle their own social insurance and do not receive benefits like paid leave from the hiring party.

  • Tax Implications: Employers withhold and remit income tax for employees. Contractors manage their own tax filings and receive gross payments.

  • Contract Structures: Different contract types are used depending on project needs, including fixed-price, time and materials, and performance-based contracts.

  • Negotiation Practices: Clear contracts are crucial to distinguish between employees and contractors, with terms that manage payment and dispute resolution effectively.

  • Common Industries for Independent Contractors: Sectors like IT, marketing, professional services, and construction frequently use contractors.

  • Intellectual Property Rights: Under Vietnamese law, contractors generally retain IP rights unless a written agreement specifies transfer to the client. Contracts should clearly address IP ownership and confidentiality.

  • Tax and Social Security for Freelancers: Contractors must file personal income tax and can opt into social insurance programs. They may also choose private health insurance plans, including international options for expatriates.

Health & Safety in Vietnam

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Vietnam's health and safety regulations are primarily outlined in the Labor Code 2019 and the Law on Occupational Safety and Health 2015, supplemented by various decrees and circulars from the Ministry of Labor, Invalids, and Social Affairs (MOLISA). MOLISA is responsible for enforcing these laws, which mandate employers to ensure safe working conditions, conduct risk assessments, provide personal protective equipment, and offer training on workplace hazards. Workers have rights to information, participation in safety matters, and can refuse unsafe work, but must also follow safety procedures and use provided equipment properly.

The regulations cover areas like machine safety, fire prevention, chemical handling, and emergency responses. Enforcement includes inspections, with penalties ranging from warnings to suspension of operations for non-compliance. Despite advancements, challenges remain such as limited enforcement capacity and low awareness, which are being addressed through enhanced enforcement, training, and partnerships. Workplace inspections are crucial, focusing on compliance, hazard control, and training, with frequencies adjusted based on risk assessments. Employers must report accidents promptly and are responsible for investigations to prevent recurrence, while the social insurance system provides compensation for work-related injuries and illnesses.

Dispute Resolution in Vietnam

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Vietnam's labor dispute resolution system is structured across multiple levels, starting from Labor Conciliation Councils (LCCs) at the grassroots level to the Supreme People's Court at the highest level. The system is designed to handle both individual and collective labor disputes, with processes that encourage conciliation initially, followed by arbitration and court proceedings if necessary.

The Labor Code 2019 governs the structure, process, and jurisdiction of this system, emphasizing timely resolution and encouraging amicable settlements. Despite a robust framework, challenges such as resource constraints, access issues for vulnerable workers, and delays remain prevalent.

Additionally, Vietnam conducts compliance audits and inspections across various sectors to ensure adherence to labor laws and other regulations, with the Ministry of Labor, Invalids, and Social Affairs (MOLISA) playing a significant role. Non-compliance can lead to fines, corrective orders, or more severe penalties like suspension or revocation of business operations.

Whistleblower protections are legally established, but practical challenges like retaliation and low public trust in institutional confidentiality hinder effective implementation. Vietnam has ratified several key International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions, influencing its labor laws to incorporate international standards. However, issues like suppression of trade unions and weak enforcement mechanisms highlight ongoing challenges in fully adhering to these standards.

Cultural Considerations in Vietnam

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Understanding communication styles is essential for business success in Vietnam, where indirect communication, formal address, and non-verbal cues are significant. Vietnamese often convey messages subtly, valuing the ability to interpret non-verbal signals and contextual hints to maintain harmony and avoid confrontation. Formality in addressing individuals by titles and last names reflects the deep respect for hierarchical structures in the workplace.

Non-verbal communication is crucial, with gestures like smiling, nodding, and posture providing insights into a person's feelings and intentions. In negotiations, building trust and focusing on long-term relationships are prioritized, with a tendency towards indirect expressions of disagreement and a detailed, slow negotiation process.

Vietnamese business culture is influenced by hierarchical structures, impacting decision-making, team dynamics, and leadership styles. Decisions are typically made top-down with input from senior leaders, promoting a sense of collective responsibility. Team roles are clearly defined, and communication is formal, which can limit cross-functional collaboration. Leadership is often authoritative and paternalistic, emphasizing strong relationships and harmony.

Vietnamese holidays like Tết and National Day significantly affect business operations, with extended closures and reduced productivity during these periods. Awareness of these cultural and statutory observances is crucial for effective business planning and operations in Vietnam.

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