Revised Labour Code promotes rights of female laborers

As the most comprehensive legal document for the world of work created in Vietnam, the revised Labour Code, adopted in November 2019 addresses a number of areas where inequalities currently exist.

Infographic on key changes of the revised Labour Code. Source: International Labour Organization ILO

Adopted in November 2019, Vietnam's revised Labor Code aims to address remaining gender gaps. In Chapter X of the Labor Code 2019, specific provisions for female employees and gender equality are specified:

1. Ensure the implementation of gender equality and measures to promote gender equality in recruitment, employment arrangement, training, working time, rest time, wages and other regimes.

2. Consult female workers or their representatives when deciding issues related to women's rights and interests.

3. Make sure there are enough suitable bathrooms and toilets at the workplace.

4. Support the construction of kindergartens or a part of kindergarten expenses for employees.

5. Protect pregnancy.

6. The right to unilaterally terminate or suspend the labor contract of the pregnant female employee.

7. Allowances for the time of taking care of sick children, maternity and contraceptive implementation.

This revision of the Labor Code is an opportunity to improve policies on female workers and promote gender equality, and also an opportunity for Vietnam to change the approach from "protecting female workers" to “ensuring the rights for all workers”, both women and men.

Sexual harassment at the workplace

Sexual harassment at the workplace is for the first time defined in the Code.

As required by the Code, prevention and combat of sexual harassment acts at the workplace, and the order and procedures for handling these acts must constitute principal contents of an internal working regulation.

Specifically, Article 125 of the Code says that an employee who commits a sexual harassment act at the workplace will be dismissed as a form of discippline.

Other new provisions in the Labor Code address the gender pay gap, and offer pregnant women and new mothers greater protection from losing their jobs or discrimination. A wide range of occupations and economic activities that were previously closed to women, ostensibly for their protection, are now open to female workers.

The new Labor Code was passed last November in replacement of its predecessor enacted in 2012. Vietnam’s National Assembly approved the new Labor Code which will take effect in January 2021./.

Tu Pham