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Measures to reclaim benefits when the employer refuses or delays to return the social insurance book in Vietnam

The social insurance book is one of the proudest possession of a Vietnamese employee. It is not just the object that they need to receive a pension when reaching retirement age, it is also the only proof that they have lived and worked in the society of Vietnam. Besides family, the social insurance book, can arguably, be the most important subject in the life of an employee. Accordingly, all matters related to the social insurance book must be made transparent. However, nowadays, there are some circumstances in which the employer might use the social insurance book to ‘blackmail’ the employee. So, what are the measures that employees can take to reclaim benefits when the employer refuses or delays returning the social insurance book in Vietnam?

Social insurance book in Vietnam

According to Clause 1, Article 96 of the Law on Social Insurance 2014, a social insurance book shall be granted to every employee for monitoring the payment of social insurance premiums and enjoyment of social insurance regimes and must serve as a basis for the settlement of social insurance regimes in accordance with the Law on Social Insurance. Accordingly, the social insurance book is a type of book used to record the process of paying and enjoying social insurance benefits. For each employee, they will receive one social insurance book to self-manage for the rest of their working life. At the same time, each person received only a social insurance number, which is a unique personal identification number issued by the social insurance agency and recorded in the social insurance book and health insurance card. The form of the social insurance book is currently being implemented according to the provisions of Decision 1035/QD-BHXH. When the employee reaches the retirement age, they submitted the social insurance book to the social insurance agency. The social insurance agency manages the social insurance book when the participant enjoys the retirement and survivorship regime. Accordingly, contrary to the current belief that the employer must manage the social insurance book, it is actually the employee’s responsibility to look after their own social insurance book. This is because, in the past, the employee is afraid of losing their social insurance book, creating administrative difficulties for them to prove that they have participated in the social insurance regime. This phenomenon happened the most when the Internet isn’t a thing. Therefore, they would authorize the business, or just simply give them the social insurance book for protection because of fear of loss during self-preservation.

Notes needed to pay attention to if the employer takes advantage of the social insurance book

While letting the employer take care of the social insurance book might be a good idea, the employee also needs to raise their guard if there is some big changes happening to the company that might affect their status at the company. For example, if the employee wants to go and work with another company, the employer might intentionally delay the repaying of the social insurance book to put pressure or to express an action out of spite against the employee. It should be noted that in practice, there will be few businesses outright refusing to re-issue social insurance books because it is a violation of the law. Instead, they will deliberately not go to get the book, delays the return of the book, use excuses such as busyness, system failure, etc. Consequently, in those situations, the employee must have a sense of self-preservation, meaning to protect themselves from the employer. According to Clause 3, Article 48 of the Labor Code 2019 stipulates on responsibilities when terminating a labor contract, when terminating the labor contract, the employers have the following responsibilities: a) Complete the procedures for verification of duration of participation in social insurance and unemployment insurance, return them and original copies of the employee’s other documents (if any); b) Provide copies of the documents relevant to the employee’s work if requested by the employee. The employer shall pay the cost of copying and sending the documents. If the employee detects that the employer violates one of the above obligations, they can make an application to the Division of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs where the company is located to ask for intervention to resolve or sue the company to The People’s Court of the district where the company is located.

ASL LAW is the top-tier Vietnam law firm for Employment and Labor Law. If you need any advice, please contact us for further information or collaboration.

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