Oi Vietnam

LEGAL EASE

What you need to know about working overtime

- A member of the Paris Bar, Antoine Logeay has been practicing law first in France, mainly in litigation and arbitratio­n, then in Vietnam for three years as an associate ofAudier & Partners based at its Hanoi office. Audier & Partners is an internatio­nal

What you need to know about working overtime

Dear Antoine,

I work for an internatio­nal school as a teacher and they require a lot of overtime work. Does Vietnamese law allow unpaid overtime work? Can I refuse to work overtime? And if I agree to work overtime sometimes, should I get paid? During lunch breaks or free time I prefer to go outside the school to handle personal business but the HR people don’t like it. Do I need to stay at the school even when I’m not teaching?

I RECEIVED MANY QUESTIONS

about labor laws in Vietnam and how to deal with “unreasonab­le” requests from employers. Although labor laws are not always clear, it is protective of employees—which is good for you. Let’s see what the law says about your questions: working overtime and breaks during working hours.

Vietnamese laws do allow overtime work but limit them under strict circumstan­ces. Most importantl­y, any overtime work requested from the employer must have the employee’s consent. This regulation of the law does help answer your question: “Can I refuse to work overtime?” Yes, you can refuse to work overtime if you do not want to do so.

According to the current Labor

Code of Vietnam and its regulation­s, the maximum regular daily working time is 8 hours and the maximum regular weekly working time is 48 hours (save exceptions). Any time for meetings and training due to the requiremen­ts of the employer (or under the employer’s approval) shall be included in the working time. “Overtime” means the period of working time that comes in addition to your “regular working hours” as they are defined in the internal labor rules or collective labor agreement, or as stipulated by law.

However, your employer cannot request you to work overtime for more than 50% of the regular working hours in a day, or more than 30 hours a month or 200 hours a year, except for special cases in which 300 hours of overtime a year are permissibl­e.

If you agree to work overtime, you will be entitled to overtime compensati­on. Your employer will have to grant you compensato­ry leave or pay you increased wages as follows: 1) for week day overtime, 150% of your hourly wage; 2) for day-off overtime, 200% of your hourly wage; and 3) for overtime worked during holidays and full-paid leave, 300% of your hourly wage.

Regarding your question about breaks during working hours, under Vietnamese labor laws, you are entitled to a break of at least half an hour during the eight consecutiv­e hours of a regular working day. These 30 minutes should be counted as actual working time, which means that they are included in the daily 8 working hours.

This does not help you so much I guess, as it seems that you do not actually work between classes. You had better read carefully the clauses about working time in your labor contract, the internal rules of the school and the collective agreement (if any). In addition to the 30-minute rest break required by law, your school may have also organized breaks for the teaching staff between class times and recorded such provisions in one of those documents.

If no such provisions are provided in your labor contract and in the internal labor rules or collective agreement, you need to stay at school during the agreed working hours. For example, if your labor contract says that working hours are from 8am to 5pm, then you have to stay in the school all day. If you need to go outside the school for personal issues, you need to inform the school and get approval. Otherwise, you may be considered to be violating the school’s labor discipline and subject to sanctions.

We hope the above is helpful and that you are now ready to start the new school year with more informatio­n about your rights and obligation­s.

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