6 things employers cannot do towards employees during the Covid-19 pandemic

Date: 15 June 2021

Writer: Thu Tran & Huy Nguyen

Nowadays, Covid-19 epidemic situation in Vietnam has become serious. Covid-19 has had negative effects on business of enterprises. Many employers must take actions to reduce effects of Covid-19, including laying off their employees. But what is the limit of those actions pursuant to the law of Vietnam? 

We would like to note 6 things that employers cannot do towards employees as follows:

1. Reassign employees to perform a job against labor contracts (“LC”) over 60 working days/ years

Per Labor Code 2019, in the event of sudden difficulties about pandemic, an employer cannot assign an employee temporarily to perform a work (which the LC does not prescribe) for an accumulated period of exceeding 60 working days within 01 year, if:

  1. There is no employees’ consent in writing;
  2. There is no prior notice to employees at least 03 working days;
  3. Paying salary of new job as 85% lower than the previous salary and lower than the minimum wage.

Read more: 4 notable changes to new labor laws of Vietnam

2. Unilaterally terminate LCs with employees (during pandemic period)

Employers cannot unilaterally terminate LCs with employees in the event of pandemic if he/she has not made every effort to improve the situation. Accordingly, employers must demonstrate that severe damages by the pandemic affected them. Also, they must prove that they have taken all possible actions, but downsizing is the last choice.

Read more: Updated: How is illegal one-sided termination of labor contracts by employers pursuant to the law of Vietnam?

3. Violate obligations of suspension pay to employees

In case of a suspension of work caused by epidemic agreed upon by parties, employers cannot pay such suspension with an amount which is smaller than the statutory minimum wages.

4. Require employees to pay compensation for damage in some special cases

Employer cannot request compensation for damage in case employees lose the employer’s equipment or assets or consume the materials beyond the set limits caused by epidemic which is unforeseeable and insurmountable, and all necessary measures and possibilities for avoidance have been taken by such employees.

5. Suspend on paying social insurance fees for retirement and survivorship allowance funds

According to laws, employers cannot suspend declaring retirement and survivorship allowance fund due to difficulties about pandemic when one of following conditions is not fully satisfactory:

  1. Suffering from damages caused pandemic which impairs over 50% of the property value;
  2. Laying off 20% of workforce or more who are already covered by social insurance, because of the pandemic.
  3. Other conditions provided by laws.

6. Neglect the Government’s directives on social distancing

According to Directives No. 15/CT-TTg, 16/CT-TTg, 19/CT-TTg and issued Official Letter of the People’s Committees at all levels, localities where social distancing must be applied, employers organizing for employees to work in factories and production facilities; traffic and construction works; establishments operating in services or essential goods, etc. employers cannot neglect anti-epidemic measures such as:

  1. Seriously implementing the wearing of masks, adequately arranging means and supplies for epidemic prevention as prescribed and recommended by health agencies;
  2. Requesting employees to make medical declarations and comply with measures of restriction on movement, contact and communication;
  3. Other requirements provided Government.

Therefore, to ensure rights and safety of employees, employers shall have to comply strictly with provisions of Labor law and relevant law in the Covid-19 epidemic period.

Should you have any questions about the above contents, please revert to BLawyers Vietnam at consult@blawyersvn.com. We are more than happy to hear from you!

Maybe you are interested in reading:

Updated: How is illegal one-sided termination of labor contracts by employers pursuant to the law of Vietnam?

Legal notes before entering labor agreement (from 01 January 2021)

Urgent letter of HCMC People’s Committee on COVID-19 epidemic prevention and fighting


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