|Delegates at the seminar on ending violence and harassment in the workplace held in Hanoi.
Nguyen Manh Cuong, General Director of the MOLISA’s Department of International Cooperation, said Vietnam would send a delegation of Government officials, employers and employees to the 108th annual session hosted by the ILO in Sweden’s Geneva in June to join the final round of discussions on a draft convention to stop sexual harassment in the workplace.
Vietnam's interest in the new convention showed Vietnam's commitment to global labour and international integration, he said.
According to Vuong Thai Nga from CARE International in Vietnam, the main point of the new convention was the broadening of the terms "violence," "harassment," "at work," and "labourers."
The term "violence and harassment" at work refers to a series of unacceptable behaviour that could cause physical, psychological, sexual or economic harm.
"Labourer" in the draft is regulated to include all employees, trainees and apprentices, volunteers, job seekers and job applicants, both in the formal and informal economic sectors, and in urban and rural areas.
The draft also clarified the concept "at work" as any location or environment related to the work process, related to or arising from work, according to Nga.
Vietnam has ratified the ILO Convention on Discrimination (Convention 111), which places an obligation on states to address gender inequality, encompassing gender discriminatory behaviour. Additionally, a joint report by the ILO and MOLISA noted that without a clear definition in the Labour Code or decrees, Vietnamese workers were vulnerable to sexual harassment, which clearly violated their fundamental rights.
Andrea Prince, and expert in labour laws at the ILO in Vietnam, said in general, the attitude towards victims and perpetrators had started to change and national laws, policies and initiatives by leading employers had been adjusted in the right direction.
"In the draft revised Labour Code recently published, we see signs that Vietnam is joining this push, with a proposal for the definition of sexual harassment to be included for the first time in law."
She said the definition may not yet fully capture all aspects of the problem.
"Providing a definition is a big step forward, laws need to also reflect the requirement for and right to equality across all provisions. The recent draft revised Labour Code includes some very positive steps in this direction, but there is still more work to do," she said.
Le Dinh Quang, Deputy Director of the Labour Relations Department at the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour, said it was still difficult to identify acts of sexual harassment, adding there should be specific regulations.
The concepts and definitions needed to be clear to help businesses and employees implement this regulation and find solutions to protect workers, he said.