EuroCham and MoLISA in dialogue to amend foreign work permit legal framework

May 27, 2023 | 16:00
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In a concerted effort to address the challenges surrounding work permits for foreign businesses in Vietnam, EuroCham joined forces with the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) to organise a dialogue workshop on May 26.

The discussion, held in Ho Chi Minh City, brought together policymakers and members of the business community to offer input on the revision of Decree No.152/2020/ND-CP. This regulation, which governs foreign work permits, has a substantial impact on the day-to-day operations of international enterprises operating in Vietnam.

EuroCham and MoLISA in dialogue to amend foreign work permit legal framework
At the event on May 26

MoLISA and EuroCham organised the event, while the American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (AmCham), the British Chamber Of Commerce Vietnam (BritCham), and the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Ho Chi Minh City (JCCH) handled co-hosting duties.

The event commenced with a speech by EuroCham Chairman Gabor Fluit who underscored the vital interconnection between Vietnam's burgeoning economy and the success of foreign enterprises and investors operating within its borders.

Fluit also stressed that the increasing complexity of the work permit path for foreign workers inadvertently hinders foreign direct investment, impedes the transfer of valuable skills and knowledge, erodes competitiveness, and stifles innovation, all of which have far-reaching effects on the national economy.

“We are grateful for the minister's statements at the Vietnam Business Forum and the Prime Minister's foreign direct investment conference, which shed light on the ministry's urgent focus on amending Decree No.152. Minister of MoLISA Dao Ngoc Dung himself emphasised the importance of this amendment, and we eagerly anticipate its implementation by the end of the third quarter,” he added.

EuroCham's Co-Chair of the Human Resources and Training Sector Committee Trung Khuat acknowledged the government's efforts to streamline work permit applications. However, he stressed the increasingly cumbersome procedures faced by foreign workers since the expiration of Resolution No.105 on December 31, 2022.

EuroCham and MoLISA in dialogue to amend foreign work permit legal framework

Khuat and fellow representatives from the business community presented an array of amendment proposals. A primary focus of these recommendations revolved around aligning the required education and work experience requirements with practical expectations, thereby fostering a more pragmatic approach to the application process.

Another critical concern echoed by multiple stakeholders was the pressing need to eliminate the existing restrictions on the number of work permit renewals. Under the current regulations, only one renewal is permitted, necessitating applicants to restart the entire application process after exhausting this allowance.

In addition to these proposals, business leaders urged local Departments of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (DoLISAs) to adopt an official and standardised application form. This measure would not only streamline the entire process, but also ensure nationwide adherence to legal provisions.

MoLISA's report on the amendment of Decree No.152 was delivered by Vu Trong Binh, Director General of MoLISA’s Department of Employment. His comments offered valuable insights into the government's perspective and priorities regarding the amendment process, shedding light on the constraints they encountered while drafting the amended decree.

A panel discussion on the challenges faced by foreign workers followed, moderated by Minh Nguyen, EuroCham's Vice-Chair, alongside representatives from MoLISA and provincial DoLISAs. Attending members of the foreign business community posed questions, prompting constructive dialogue geared towards exchanging experiences, addressing specific issues, and seeking practical solutions to streamline the work permit application process.

EuroCham Vice-Chair Jean-Jacques Bouflet emphasised the commitment of foreign investors to legal compliance and the training of Vietnamese personnel, aligning with Vietnam's vision of nurturing a skilled workforce. Recognising the persistent demand for high-quality foreign experts in high-tech sectors, Bouflet underscored the importance of upholding the obligations under free trade agreements to facilitate the employment of foreign workers.

He also highlighted specific provisions in the Labour Law that exempt certain cases from work permits.

Bouflet stressed the need for streamlined procedures and a flexible interpretation of regulations to expedite and simplify the work permit application process for foreigners. He reasoned that the timely issuance of work permits is crucial in attracting substantial investments to Vietnam and maintaining its appeal as a desirable destination for foreign investors.

EuroCham and the business community are eagerly awaiting the release of the draft amended decree in July, a date that was pushed for multiple times by MoLISA during the dialogue.

Binh reaffirmed MoLISA's intention to actively seek input from the foreign business community once the draft is made available.

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By Thai An

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