Prior to the recent improvement in regulations in the labor law in Vietnam concerning the retention period for unemployment benefits, there were instances where many workers, after completing more than 12 years of unemployment insurance contributions, were informed by insurance specialists that they could only receive a maximum of 12 months of unemployment benefits, and the remaining contribution period would not be retained.
The lack of information about the maximum eligible period and the non-retention of the remaining duration significantly impacted the rights of workers. Most workers focused on their employment, only planning for insurance benefits in the year preceding their retirement.
Under the previous system, even if a worker contributed to and had continuous social insurance coverage for 40 years, they would still only receive a maximum of 12 months of unemployment benefits, similar to someone who contributed for just 12 years. The remaining 28 years would not be retained for subsequent claims. If the worker continued to contribute after that, the counting of the benefit period would reset from the first month.
Recognizing this issue, the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs has issued Circular 15/2023/TT-BLĐTBXH amending and supplementing Circular 28/2015/TT-BLĐTBXH and Decree 28/2015/NĐ-CP on unemployment insurance, clearly specifying cases where the contribution period is not retained.
According to Article 4, Clause 1 of Circular 15/2023/TT-BLĐTBXH, workers with unemployment insurance periods of over 36 months but less than 144 months will have their contribution periods retained until they are fully resolved to receive unemployment benefits. For workers who have contributed to unemployment insurance for over 144 months, the periods not yet resolved to receive unemployment benefits will not be retained.
The circular provides two examples to illustrate the regulation:
Example 5: Mrs. Nguyen Thi D has a total unemployment insurance period of 41 months. Therefore, if she meets all the conditions specified in Article 49 of the Labor Code and related guidance documents, she is entitled to receive 3 months of unemployment benefits (equivalent to 36 months of unemployment insurance contribution) and has her contribution period retained for 5 months.
Example 6: Mrs. Nguyen Thi E has a total unemployment insurance period of 150 months. Therefore, if she meets all the conditions specified in Article 49 of the Labor Code and related guidance documents, she is entitled to receive 12 months of unemployment benefits and has her contribution period retained for 0 months.
Starting from February 15, 2024, Vietnamese workers will have clear legal grounds stating that they will not have their unemployment insurance contribution period retained if it exceeds 144 months.
To ensure their rights, workers should plan to maximize their unemployment insurance benefits. For instance, they can work and contribute to social insurance for 12 years, take a year off to fully enjoy the entire unemployment benefit amount for 12 months, and then resume regular work and insurance coverage.
This mechanism is encouraged by the Ministry of Labor to safeguard the rights of workers, preventing them from receiving disadvantages while still having a period to claim unemployment benefits. It’s essential to note that if a worker reaches retirement age without claiming unemployment benefits, they may no longer meet the eligibility criteria for receiving such benefits.
Therefore, workers should also plan to maximize the period before reaching retirement age to claim unemployment benefits (62 for men and 60 for women, according to the progressive retirement age plan in Vietnam).