Regulations adjusted to facilitate guest workers hinh anh 1Workers join a language fluency test to meet criteria for working in the Republic of Korea (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) - Regulations related to service fees targeting Vietnamese guest workers are being amended to cut cost for them and ensure transparency.

The National Assembly (NA) discussed the draft revised Law on Contract-Based Vietnamese Overseas Workers on June 10. It is expected to be passed at the NA’s meeting in October.

Cutting cost for guest workers

The law’s regulations on fees were adjusted to be suitable to the current market and international trends, and ensure employers’ responsibilities toward guest workers.

Instead of asking the labourers to pay all service fees, the draft law regulates that if the worker’s foreign employer has paid an amount of service charge to the company, the worker would only pay the company an amount equal to the ceiling service charge rate minus the amount paid by the foreign employer.

Chang-Hee Lee, Director of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Vietnam, said: “Explicit prohibition of specific categories of recruitment fees and related costs in legislation is important.”

“When migrant workers pay high fees and costs, and obtain high-interest loans to fund migration, they are more vulnerable to abuse, exploitation, debt bondage, forced labour and human trafficking. Therefore, the development benefits of labour migration cannot be fully realised.”

The ILO’s Private Employment Agencies Convention No. 181 and ILO’s General principles and operational guidelines for fair recruitment state that “workers shall not be charged directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, any fees or related costs for their recruitment” and that “prospective employers, public or private, or their intermediaries, and not the workers, should bear the cost of recruitment.”

Workers have to pay higher cost than regulated limits

Vietnam currently has high recruitment fees and related costs set in legislation. According to a new ILO study, the current fee and cost structures are not well understood by migrant workers and complexity around legal limits prevents them from knowing if they are being overcharged.

Regulations adjusted to facilitate guest workers hinh anh 2Chang-Hee Lee, Director of the ILO in Viet Nam (Photo: VietnamPlus)

The study demonstrates that charging migrant workers over the legally set ceilings appears to be a common practice. Some interviewees reported paying between 163 million VND and 372 million VND (7,000 - 16,000 USD) to be able to work in Japan and Taiwan (China), much higher than legally set limits. Developing regular migration channels in legislation that are less costly, less time-consuming and less complex can tackle issues of overcharging, and may be easier to oversee and enforce.

“Abuses involving debt bondage associated with repayment of recruitment fees can lead to forced labour and human trafficking,” said ILO’s Technical Specialist on Labour Migration Anna Olsen.

In a related move, the National Assembly on June 8 voted for the ratification of ILO’s fundamental Convention 105 on Abolition of Forced Labour.

“To address risks of forced labour, an adequate national regulatory framework and comprehensive labour migration policies based on international labour standards are vital,” said Olsen.

According to the specialist, the revision of Law 72 offers an opportunity for Vietnam to address the demand from numerous leading multinational employers and businesses looking to hire ‘zero fee’ migrant workers who have not paid anything for their recruitment abroad. This will better protect migrant workers and meet international standards.

“What we hope for Vietnam is to be able to amplify the development potential of migration. Ensuring the protection of migrant workers’ rights before, during and after labour migration is the best way to do this,” said Lee.

“The ILO reiterates its commitment to support the Vietnamese Government to fulfill this important goal,” he noted./.

 In 2019, Vietnam sent more than 152,000 workers abroad, two-thirds of whom were men. Japan and Taiwan (China) received more than 90 percent of the country’s regular migrant workers in the past three years. The Government annually increases national and provincial labour migration targets, and actively promotes labour migration as a means of employment creation, skills improvement and poverty reduction.