Australian Embassy

Media release - 19 October 2018

Ensuring gender equality promotion in the Revision of the Vietnam Labour Code – the key to enhanced competitiveness and sustainable development


Today in Hanoi, on the eve of the Vietnamese Women's Day (20 October), a consultation workshop was held on promoting gender equality in the revision of the Labour Code. It was organised by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA), with support from Investing in Women, an initiative of the Australian Government, and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) in Viet Nam.

The government highlighted the benefits of gender equality at work and its efforts to address women and men’s equal opportunities and treatment in the Labour Code.

Vietnam’s 2012 Code is being amended to pave the way for Vietnam’s economy to become more competitive and deliver decent work and growth fit for the Government’s vision of the nation in the 21st century.

The event, the biggest consultation on the provisions to ensure and promote gender equality of the Labour Code reform, assembled some 200 women and men representatives from the drafting committee, policy makers and practitioners, including: National Assembly, Government, workers’ and employers’ representative organisations, diplomatic agencies, international organisations, and the media, etc.

Creating an enabling environment for women in the workplace is a priority for the Vietnamese Government. Based on empirical studies and experience from other countries, perhaps, it is time to consider an approach shift in developing the Labour Code’s provisions, from 'protecting women’ to ’promoting gender equality’ for both male and female employees. Separate provisions singling out female employees in the Labour Code indeed could change to be: i) provisions on measures to promote gender equality in practice (as temporary special measures); and ii) maternity and paternity protection provisions for both female and male employees” Madam Nguyen Thi Ha, MOLISA Vice Minister said in her opening speech “We see the Labour Code reform as an opportunity to make progress in this area.”

The Labour Code revision is in the context of Vietnam’s preparation to enter into the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) which will expand Vietnam’s access to EU and CPTPP countries markets through 99% cut in import taxes within 10 years.

The Labour Code revision is a specific work for Vietnam to implement international treaty commitments in the field of workplace gender equality, making it a likely leading nation in the region in respecting fundamental rights at work that underlie economic productivity and competitive advancement.

"Gender inequality should no longer be seen as a purely social issue, but as an economic one that presents a key challenge to attaining inclusive and sustainable growth," Australian Ambassador Craig Chittick said at the opening of the consultation.

The efforts led by MOLISA with support from the Australian Government and UN Women focus on shifting the approach and improving regulations on four areas of Vietnam’s current Labour Code:

  • Narrowing down toward eliminating the retirement age gap between male and female employees through gradual adjustments;
  • Improving provisions on preventing and addressing sexual harassment;
  • Ensuring, promoting equality and non-discrimination based on gender in performing reproductive and child-care functions; and
  • Improving social responsibility mechanism between the State and employers in organising day care facilities and kindergartens and in supporting employees with sending their children to day care facilities and kindergartens.

Perfecting gender equality provisions in the Labour Code will also allow Vietnam to better ensure the consistency of its legal system. Vietnam's 2013 Constitution stipulates that: “Male and female citizens have equal rights in all field. Policies to guarantee the right to and opportunities for gender equality shall be adopted by the State”. The Gender Equality Law promulgated in 2006 plays an important role in ensuring and promoting gender equality in all fields.

Input from this Consultation Workshop is expected to inform MOLISA’s (revised) Labour Code Project which is scheduled to be brought before the National Assembly for comments in May 2019 and for adoption in October 2019.