The Lunar New Year holidays do not fall on fixed days every year but instead are decided on an annual basis by various ministries.
The Labor Code merely requires the Tet holidays, Vietnam’s most important festival, to last at least five days, and the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs to add more days to ensure that weekends are not lost so that workers get as many days off work as possible.
The ministry gathers feedback from various ministries and other agencies before drafting a final plan and submitting to the government for its green light.
Labor minister Ha Tat Thang said the plan is also reviewed by other ministries because the Tet break affects the interests of tens of millions of workers.
But the process is tedious.
In 2023 for example, when Tet falls in January, the ministry is currently soliciting opinions on two alternative proposals.
One of them is for having holidays from January 20 to 26, a seven-day break starting two days before the New Year.
The other is for January 21-29, starting just one day before the New Year.
The ministry is leaning toward the seven-day option, saying it prefers fewer days off.
Though the deadline for sending in opinions was Sep. 15, some agencies have yet to do so.
Analysts and businesses have called for a longer Tet break and an earlier start to ease traffic and give people time to shop, return to their hometowns and prepare for the holidays during which they do not just celebrate the arrival of a new year but also reunite with their families, a tradition that has been around for generations.
Pham Minh Huan, a former deputy labor minister, said the drawn-out process is unnecessary and instead the government should authorize the ministry to make the decision itself so that the Tet holiday plans could be made public sooner, enabling businesses and workers to make their own plans.
The minimum of five days and the extra days to guarantee no loss due to weekends should continue but the maximum should also be stipulated, he said.
But considering the workforce at major industrial and commercial hubs across the country comprises migrant workers, the holidays should start early so that workers have ample time to go home, he added.
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