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The difference between sick leave, sick leave by sickness regime, and annual leave in Vietnam

Falling ill is an inevitable part of every person’s working life. In some cases, illness can become severe, preventing employees from going to work, necessitating them to submit sick leave requests to their employers. So, does Vietnamese Labor Code allow employees to take sick leave? If they do, is it classified as sick leave, sick leave by sickness regime, or annual leave?

Unlike some developed countries worldwide, Vietnam currently lacks legal regulations concerning sick leave or regular health checkup leave. The differences in labor regulations for Vietnamese employees are mainly reflected in the number of annual leave days.

Currently, Vietnam offers a relatively low number of annual leave days, set at 12 days per year, gradually increasing over five years of employment with the same employer according to the 2019 Labor Code. However, in developed countries, annual leave days can go up to 30 days or more, often accompanied by various health benefits and welfare measures to protect employees’ rights.

Considering Sick Leave for Vietnamese Employees

Due to the absence of a yearly sick leave policy in Vietnam, when employees fall ill, they cannot choose ‘sick leave’ as a reason to rest while retaining their full salary. This confusion arises because their leave applications often state ‘sick leave,’ leading employees to misunderstand that this is one of the legally recognized reasons for leave with full pay.

When taking sick leave, under normal business conditions, Vietnamese employees can choose between taking annual leave or sick leave by sickness regime. According to Vietnamese Labor Code, employees are entitled to 12 days of annual leave per year, during which they continue to receive their full salary. If they opt for sick leave, they will retain their salary but lose one or more annual leave days.

In cases where employees take sick leave by sickness regime, they do not lose their annual leave days but do not receive salary for the sick leave period. Instead, they receive allowances from social insurance if they are fully covered.

According to Article 6 of Circular 59/2015/TT-BLĐTBXH, the allowance for sick leave in Vietnam is calculated as follows: The daily allowance for sick leave equals 75% of the insured salary for the month preceding the leave period, calculated based on 24 working days (from Monday to Saturday). Employees receive 75% of their monthly insured salary for each sick leave day.

When choosing this method, employees do not need their employers’ consent but must inform them to arrange work and submit the sick leave application to the social insurance office.

However, there are three points employees should consider before choosing sick leave by sickness regime:

  1. Employees must have a medical confirmation from an authorized medical facility according to the Ministry of Health’s regulations.
  2. If the insured salary is lower than the actual salary, employees might receive a minimal allowance if they choose this method.
  3. Due to the overload of Vietnam’s social insurance system, employees might wait for a long time before receiving their sick leave allowances.

In summary, for short sick leaves, employees should choose annual leave, as, in many cases, the effort they put into the application process does not compensate for the social insurance benefits received during sick leave by sickness regime. However, in specific cases such as prolonged illness or illness due to the Covid-19 pandemic, applying for sick leave by sickness regime is advisable to safeguard their rights and benefits.

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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