The Labor Code 2019, issued by the National Assembly on November 20, 2019, will officially take effect on January 1, thereby, promises to bring many fundamental changes to enhance the Vietnamese legal framework and harmonize with world standards. In particular, the Labor Code 2019 sets out some important amendments to the rights and obligations of the parties in labor relations.

Firstly, under Article 20 of the Labor Code 2019, from January 1, 2021, an employment contract can only be formed in one of two types: indefinite-term employment contract and definite-term employment contract (not exceeding 36 months). Thus, compared with the current regulations in Article 22 of the Labor Code 2012, there will be no employment contracts for seasonal or work-specific.

Secondly, to keep up with the rapid advance of technology, as well as the need of contract in electronic form during Covid-19 pandemics, Article 14 of the Labor Code 2019 has accepted employment contract via electronic means as valid as a contract in writing.

Thirdly, the Labor Code 2019 enacts regulations toward better protect of employees’ rights, as well as more flexibility in labor relations. Accordingly, the employee will be entitled to unilaterally terminate the employment contract without any reason, only need to meet the requirement of the prior notice under Article 35.1. Moreover, in some cases, the employee may unilaterally terminate the contract without prior notice like being sexually harassed at the workplace, mistreated, beaten by the employer, …

On the other hand, the new Code also provides mechanisms with more flexible for the employee in case the employee severely violates contract, including: the employee is not present at the workplace after the time limit specified in Article 31 or quits the job without acceptable excuses for 05 consecutive working days. In these cases, the employer may unilaterally terminate the labor contract without prior notice which is obliged under the current Code.

The Labor Code 2019 shows more openness of Vietnamese law in governing labor relations, enhancing freedom and flexibility for parties hereto in an effort of promoting labor market development. In the context that the Labor Code will soon take effect, both employees and employers need to scrutinize these changes to protect their own rights and legitimate interests.

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