Employers evading social insurance payments affects workers' rights

The prolonged delays in social insurance payments greatly affects the legitimate rights and interests of employees.

The prolonged delays in social insurance payments greatly affects the legitimate rights and interests of workers. (Photo: VNA)

Evasion of social insurance payments for workers increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, as enterprises grappled the economic fall-out of pandemic control measures. However, as stipulated by law, avoiding payment and racking up insurance debt severely affects the social security rights of employees.

According to statistics from the social insurance agency, as of November 2021, debts of social, health and unemployment insurance owed by enterprises amounted to 27 trillion VND (1.1 billion USD).

Chu Xuan Dung, vice-chairman of Hà Nội People's Committee, said that the prolonged delays in social insurance payments greatly affects the legitimate rights and interests of employees.

However, taking action is difficult against employers that owe social insurance, according to officials. So far, no violating enterprises have been brought to trial by the court, due to legal hurdles.

Statistics from Viet Nam Social Insurance show that, in 2020, late payments of social insurance reached more than 2.5 trillion VND, 1.6 times higher than in 2016.

As of November 2021, the total of social, health and unemployment insurance debt increased by nearly 7 per cent, compared to receivables.

Ha Noi is the city with the largest number of businesses, employers, and beneficiaries of social, health and unemployment insurance policies in the country. By the end of last year, there were still 150 employers with large outstanding insurance debts. These ranged from six to 24 months overdue, with a combined total debt of more than 75 billion VND, directly affecting the legal and legitimate interests of more than 4,000 employees.

“We don’t have solutions for businesses and enterprises whose owners fled, or have gone missing or bankrupt, with large amounts of debt. These are enterprises that have either not yet participated in social insurance, or have not participated in full social insurance mechanisms for their employees,” he said.

“Ha Noi City has requested the Government and Việt Nam Social Security to consider and amend legal proceedings against enterprises that have social insurance debts, so that the social insurance agency can sue each enterprise in accordance with the provisions of the Law on Social Insurance," Dung said.

According to a report from Viet Nam Social Insurance, city and provincial social insurance agencies have transferred 138 dossiers on debtors that have failed to comply to the police, and proposed investigating and prosecuting under the Penal Code, though so far no cases have been opened.

Tran Dinh Lieu, Deputy General Director of Viet Nam Social Insurance, said that, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years, many businesses faced difficulties and went bankrupt, especially those in the service or tourism industries. Therefore, the Vietnam Social Insurance Industry is inspecting the reality of each enterprise, to come up with appropriate solutions.

“We are continuing to work directly to businesses to listen, support and encourage them to comply with the law and pay monthly social insurance for employees. All enterprises that are employing workers and paying salaries are obliged to pay,” he said.

“As for businesses that have ceased operations, we will have to consult with the authorities to confirm that businesses were really affected by the pandemic. If they intentionally violate the law on social insurance, we must use measures as prescribed by law," Lieu said.

Tran Hai Nam, Deputy Director of the Social Insurance Department, Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs said employees have the right to access information and supervise employers in obeying the law and fulfilling their duties.

“In the past, the law of Social Insurance stated that employers only have to provide information when requested. But now, the law asks all employers to provide periodically information,” he said.

“With the VSSID application to the social insurance system, we can check up on those participating in social insurance payments. This is also a channel for employees themselves to have the right to supervise the employer, as well as the social insurance agency,” Nam said.

The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs has proposed that inspections on the payment of social insurance for employees be conducted on large scale, so that the law is implemented effectively. The ministry also suggested social insurance management agencies have the right to block accounts of violating employers to make them fulfil their duties to employees.