Vietnam to vote on 6-month maternity leave

HA NOI - The National Assembly yesterday officially passed the Labour Code, which would allow women to enjoy a six-month maternity leave starting from May 1, 2013. The Labour Code attracted wide attention after critics pointed out that extending the leave from four-months to six-months would create a healthier population and workforce for the country.

The new Labour Code also stipulates that female workers have to work up to two months before their scheduled delivery date. Relating to the number of overtime hours, workers are allowed to work overtime up to 200 hours a year, but the number of overtime hours cannot exceed half of the official working hours in one day.

The NA still votes to keep the same retirement age for women at 55 and men at 60. However, the NA Standing Committee said it was still looking at the possibility of equalising the retirement age between men and women and study other factors related to managing the national security fund.

Also yesterday, the NA passed the Law on Anti-Money Laundering, Law on Higher Education, and the Law on Tobacco Prevention and Control.

Accordingly, the Law on Higher Education will increase the level of autonomy given to higher education institutions, especially national universities, in regards to training, scientific research, finance and international relations.

The Law on Tobacco Prevention and Control strictly prohibits people under age 18 from using, selling or buying tobacco. The law also states that a tobacco prevention fund would be raised by mandatory contributions from tobacco producers, importers would pay a percentage of cigarette prices before VAT and special use taxes, and it would not affect the national budget.

Better publishing standards

Lawmakers yesterday agreed that the revised Law on Publishing should allow for renewed operational management, administrative decentralisation and State supervision instead of control over publishing houses and printing units.

Several National Assembly deputies supported the establishment of printing units under regulated conditions and the registration of operations at provincial People's Committees.

Deputy Tran Van Tan, from southern Tien Giang Province, said more than 1,100 printing units have been running without proper management, which has led to substandard and illegal operations.

Tan added that local People's Committees were not capable of managing the ins-and-outs of printing operations.

As for regulations related to e-publications, deputies agreed it has seen significant development in Viet Nam and around the world.

Deputy Nguyen Van Minh, from HCM City, said it was necessary to have a whole chapter dedicated to e-publication due to the complications it entails. Catholic Priest Le Ngoc Hoan, from northern Nam Dinh Province, said e-publications should be licensed and come under copyright violation laws.

In terms of language development, deputy Nguyen Lam Thanh, from northern Lang Son Province, said Viet Nam has accumulated more than 3,000 new words from 1990 to 2000 and that the figure today was undoubtedly much higher. He added that language mixing stood at an alarming level, with young people's overuse of foreign language, Vietnamese at random and slang.

Thanh said it was essential to affirm a clear standard for language in publications to accommodate the country's 53 ethnic minorities, Vietnamese itself and foreign languages.

At the meeting, deputies also discussed issues related to the establishment of publishing houses and behaviour prohibited in publications.