In June 2019, Vietnam took an historic step toward freedom of association (FOA) and ratified International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 98, which enshrines a worker’s right to organize and bargain collectively. The government followed in November with an updated version of the Labor Code. Vietnam is now on a path to end the state and employer dominance of trade unions at the company level, allowing workers to form their own labor unions. The changes to the Labor Code include provisions needed to implement Convention 98 and close loopholes and clarify provisions from the Labor Code of 2012. To guide implementation, the government will issue a set of decrees and circulars by the fourth quarter of 2020.
While the new Labor Code will not take effect until January 1, 2021, employers operating in Vietnam should note its’ changes and prepare for implementation. Notably, the revised Labor Code allows workers to form or join an Independent Worker Representative Organization (WRO) of their choosing, which does not have to be affiliated with the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor. This issue brief provides seven recommendations for companies to ensure workers’ freedom of association when implementing Vietnam’s new Labor Code.