Companies and workers violating employment regulations while undertaking work overseas will be subject to much stricter punishment and fines as of next week when a new decree takes effect.

Decree 95 will come into effect on October 10 and replace the existing Decree 144, which sets non-compliance fines for those involved in overseas work placements. It will increase the fines for employers, job placement agencies and workers.

Under the existing regulation, the maximum fine for a violation is only 40 million VND (1,900 USD), but with Decree 95 coming into effect the maximum fine will now top 200 million VND (9,480 USD). Many other fines specified in the former decree will be raised considerably, some more than tenfold.

The fine for job placement companies sending workers overseas without registering a labour supply contact or without the approval of the relevant authorities was previously 10-15 million VND, but it will now be set at 150-180 million VND (7,100-8,500 USD). Companies who violate the new regulations will also be embargoed from sending workers overseas for a 6-12 month period.

For companies failing to sign a contract with overseas-based workers and for failing to provide for the financial rights and responsibilities of the workers, the fine has jumped from 25-35 million VND to 50-80 million VND.

Companies failing to provide adequate information for workers prior to their trip overseas are currently subject to fines of 10-15 million VND, but after October 10 they will be fined 20-40 million VND.

According to the Department of Overseas Labour, between 2007 and 2013, the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs fined only 86 companies for violations, revoked the business licences of 41 companies and suspended operations of a mere two companies.These figures were reportedly insignificant compared to the real number of violations.

The department told the media that punishing companies was difficult because in many cases workers often attempted to solve disputes on their own rather than reporting violations to the authorities. The authorities expect that with the stricter fines coming into practice, the parties concerned will be discouraged from taking short cuts.

The decree also specifies a fine of 80-100 million VND (3,800-4,700 USD) for those who continue to stay and work beyond the end of their contract. In addition, they will be forced to return immediately and forbidden to go to work overseas for two years.

However, there will be a three-month grace period after the implementation of Decree 95 allowing current over staying workers to voluntarily return home by January 10, 2014 and remain exempt from the new fines.

Nguyen Tuan Anh, an official from a labour export company based in Hanoi's Giang Vo Street said considering the negative impact that overstaying workers has on international relations, the strict fines would be appropriate. Yet, he noted that it would be difficult to enforce the regulations, as these workers are often those faced with limited financial means.

He added that he hoped the Government's lenient caveat that allowed overstaying workers to return home within the next three months without being fined will encourage many to voluntarily return home and in turn help reduce current pressures on all parties involved.

According to the department's latest statistics, made public on October 2, the total number of workers sent to work overseas during the past eight months of the year reached nearly 55,000 people. The figure makes up 64 percent of the initial target of sending workers overseas for the whole year.

China’sTaiwan, Japan, the Republic of Korea and Malaysia remain top destinations for Vietnamese wishing to work abroad. The department noted that the numbers of workers sent to these top four destinations had steadily grown compared with the year before.

Deputy Minister Nguyen Thanh Hoa told the media that in the coming time, the ministry would issue a circular that specifies the responsibilities of relevant State agencies in handling the violations in sending workers overseas.-VNA