Lai Ngoc Thanh-Lawyer Deputy director, LLA Legal
Items such as laptops, drawer contents, and documents on site are property of the company, and that company has the right to manage the usage of these items. However, deliberately seizing and checking such items, or logging into computers, emails, and others items the employee has without the agreement or presence of the employee in question are violating their privacy rights if they contain information related to their private life.
Article 21 in the 2013 Constitution of the country stipulates that everyone has the right to inviolability of private life, personal secrets, and family secrets; and has the right to protect his or her honour and reputation. The security of information about private life or secrets shall be guaranteed by law. Everyone has the right to privacy of correspondence, telephone conversations, telegrams, and other forms of private communication. Also, no-one may illegally break into, control, or seize another’s correspondence, telephone conversations, telegrams, or other forms of private communication.
These rights are also noted in Article 38 of the 2015 Civil Code, which highlights the right to a private life and personal and family secrets – these are inviolable and protected by law. The collection, preservation, use, and publication of information about the private life of an individual must have the consent of that person; likewise, the collection, preservation, use and publication of information about secrets of the family must have the consent of all family members, unless otherwise prescribed by law.
The safety of mail, telephones, telegrams, and other forms of electronic information of an individual shall be ensured and kept confidential. The opening, control, and keeping of these forms of information may only be conducted in cases provided by law. Parties to a contract may not disclose information about each other’s private life, personal secrets, or family secrets that they know during the establishment and performance of the contract, unless otherwise agreed.
In case of infringement, the violators will be fined an amount of VND10-20 million ($435-870) according to Article 102 of Decree No.15/2020/ND-CP dated February 2020 stipulating penalties for violations in the fields of postal services, telecommunications, radio frequency, IT, and electronic transactions.
If violation causes serious consequences, they can be claimed for appropriation of another person’s mails, telegraphs, telex, faxes, or other documents which are transmitted via the postal or telecommunications network in any shape or form, according to the Article 159 of the Criminal Code 2015, which was amended in 2017.
If an employee requests leave in line with the company’s regulations along with a medical certificate from a hospital, and the company still claims “voluntarily leave” and applies penalties to that employee, the two sides enter a dispute on labour discipline. The current legal framework stipulates very clearly for employers what to do if disciplining employees. For example, discipline applies on violations/acts that are noted in regulations of the company, and the violations should be proven clearly. Discipline should be participated in by a local trade union, and the discipline should be recorded on minutes.
If violating any part of the above, disciplining the employee may be illegal. In that case, the employee is advised to file a complaint to the leaders of the company and contact a trade union or local labour federation for help on filing a lawsuit to protect his or her rights.