Vietnam targets ensuring equal labour rights for people with disabilities

Saturday, 2019-03-30 17:10:28
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Vietnam aims at helping people with disabilities to be fully entitled to all human rights, including labour rights.
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NDO – Party General Secretary and State President Nguyen Phu Trong in mid-March signed a document ratifying Vietnam joining the International Labour Organisation (ILO)'s Convention 159 on Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment for Disabled Persons. The ratification strongly affirms Vietnam's commitment to ensuring that workers with disabilities are not discriminated against in terms of employment.

The convention provides that member states must adopt, modify or abolish existing laws, regulations and practices that contribute to inequality in the rights of workers with disabilities. It also sets out activities and policies at the national level to develop vocational rehabilitation and employment services for people with disabilities (PWDs).

Currently in Vietnam, PWDs account for a significant proportion of the labour force. Statistics from the National Committee for PWDs showed that, by early 2018, there were about eight million PWDs aged five years and older, accounting for 7.8% of the population. Among the PWDs, 58% are women and 42% are men. The majority of PWDs of working age live in rural areas, with their main job helping their families in agriculture, forestry and fishery and earn a low income. About 40% of PWDs are at the working age and have working capacity, in which only 30% have decent jobs that create income for themselves, their families and society. Therefore, about two million PWDs who are capable to work have not yet participated in labour and don’t have jobs yet.

An ILO study showed that Vietnam lost about 3% of GDP due to not taking advantage of PWDs in the labour market. Not to mention, creating conditions for workers with disabilities is not to let anyone left behind in the development process. Businesses, individuals and the whole society will benefit from creating employment opportunities for workers with disabilities.

The country has developed a system of current legal documents, such as the 2010 Law on PWDs, the Law on Professional Education and Employment, the Construction Law, the Road Traffic Law, the Health Insurance Law and the Law on Occupational Safety and Hygiene, with important regulations relating to labour rehabilitation and offering vocational training, job introduction counseling and job creation, in addition to support from the State and the community for PWDs.

However, in addition to the achieved results, the support in job creation for PWDs faces multiple difficulties, while PWDs still have challenges in accessing preferential loans for vocational training or opening production and business establishments. The proportion of PWDs that have jobs after being provided with vocational training is low and they mainly create jobs by themselves. Besides, although the provisions of the Law on PWDs require agencies, enterprises and organisations not to refuse to recruit qualified PWDs, employers are still not ready to admit PWDs.

The ratification of Convention 159 will be a new step in improving Vietnam's current legal framework to support PWDs, contributing to further improving the labour market policies and institutions towards being modern and consistent with international labour standards, thus ensuring the rights of disadvantaged groups in the labour market.

In order to achieve this goal, there should be solutions to improve the effectiveness of employment support for PWDs in the near future. In particular, changing of awareness and having an important approach for PWDs is important, in which it is a must to consider PWDs a potential labour force, playing an active role in society.

For that reason, creating jobs for PWDs is not a humanitarian act or for charitable purposes, but to meet their legitimate needs and ensure their right to work and to be recognised. On that basis, the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs should coordinate with the relevant ministries and agencies to develop and promulgate policies to pay more attention to PWDs and adopt mechanisms on financial support for them in vocational training, while assisting employers to admit PWDs to work, supporting PWDs to run businesses and building a database on PWDs.

In addition, it is also crucial to analyse and assess the needs of vocational training and employment of each targeted group in order to deploy appropriate and effective support policies.