Payroll Management in Vietnam: Key Changes Starting from December 2018

This year brought several changes to payroll management in Vietnam. In October 2018, the government released a new decree (143/2018/ND-CP) on compulsory social insurance payments for foreign employees working in Vietnam. In this article, we have pinpointed the most important amendments. Social insurances for foreign employees in Vietnam There are three types of compulsory insurances […]

This year brought several changes to payroll management in Vietnam. In October 2018, the government released a new decree (143/2018/ND-CP) on compulsory social insurance payments for foreign employees working in Vietnam. In this article, we have pinpointed the most important amendments.

Social insurances for foreign employees in Vietnam

There are three types of compulsory insurances applicable to employees in Vietnam:

  • Health insurance
  • Social insurance
  • Unemployment insurance

Out of these three insurances, foreign employees have only been eligible for health insurance. For this reason, the employment taxes imposed on foreign nationals have been significantly lower than on local employees.

In 2014, however, Vietnam passed the Social Insurance Law which became effective in 2016. The law stated that companies could also begin making social insurance payments for their foreign employees from January 2018.

On 15 October 2018, the government released the long-anticipated Decree (143/2018/ND-CP), making social insurance payments for foreign employees compulsory starting from 1 December 2018.

These percentages will be, accordingly:

  • 0% by the employee
  • 3.5% by the employer

As can be seen from the decree, foreign employees would be granted the same benefits as the Vietnamese employees.

These benefits include compensation for:

  • sickness and maternity leave
  • occupational diseases
  • accidents
  • retirement
  • death

Foreign employees would also get a one-time payment of pension upon leaving Vietnam. Unemployment insurance, however, will not apply to foreign employees.

Which foreign employees are eligible for social insurance in Vietnam?

Not every foreign employee is eligible for compulsory social insurance in Vietnam. Social insurance only applies if:

  • the employment contract is indefinite or, in case of definite contracts, the term of the contract is at least one full year
  • the employee has a work permit, a practicing certificate, or a practicing license

However, even if the foreign employee fulfills either of the above-mentioned requirements, they are not eligible for social insurance in Vietnam on the following conditions:

  • they have been internally transferred to Vietnam from an office abroad
  • they have reached the retirement age which in Vietnam is 60 for men and 55 for women

If the employee has several employers, the social insurance obligation only applies to the first employment contract. However, each of the employers must bear the insurance for labor accidents and occupational diseases which is 0.5%.

Employment taxes in Vietnam in 2019

Employment taxes for Vietnamese employees

For Vietnamese employees, the employment taxes are as follows:

payroll management in Vietnam

Employment taxes for foreign employees

According to the new decree, the employment taxes for foreign employees starting from 1 December 2018 are:

payroll management in Vietnam

These taxes are applicable from 1 December 2018 until 31 December 2021. However, beginning on 1 January 2022, the social insurance payments for foreign employees will increase as below:

Employment taxes on foreign employees

starting from January 2022

Paid by the employer

Deducted from the salary

  • 17.5% Social Insurance
  • 3% Health Insurance
  • 2% Trade Union Fee
  • 8% Social Insurance
  • 1.5% Health Insurance

Take note that regimes for retirement and death benefits will also apply, starting from 1 January 2022.

Taxable employee benefits

In Vietnam, some employee benefits are tax-free while others remain taxable.

Taxable benefits in Vietnam

Tax-free benefits in Vietnam

  • Housing
  • Utility payments
  • Life insurance
  • Meal allowance (amount exceeding VND 700,000)
  • Private sports membership
  • Meal allowance (meals)
  • Meal allowance up to 700,000 VND (~USD 30)
  • Petrol
  • Telephone
  • Childcare
  • Transportation
  • Entertainment
  • Healthcare
  • Sports membership for a group of employees

Insurance caps in Vietnam in 2018

Vietnam has also increased insurance caps for 2018:

  • Starting from July 2018, health and social insurances are capped at 27,800,000 VND (~US$ 1,224), previously 26,000,000 VND (~US$ 1,144)
  • Unemployment insurance will be capped at 79,600,000 VND (~US$ 3,505), starting from January 2018

Minimum wages in Vietnam in 2019

In Vietnam, there are two types of minimum salaries:

  • Common minimum wage
  • Regional minimum wage

Common minimum wage

Common minimum wage applies to employees who work at state-owned companies and enterprises. In July 2018, Vietnam raised the common minimum wage to 1,390,000 VND/month (~US$ 60) from the previous 1,300,000 VND/month (~US$ 55).

Salaries are calculated by multiplying the common minimum wage by the wage coefficient. For example, the wage coefficient of a person with a bachelor’s degree is 2.34.  Multiplication of it by 1,390,000 VND would make that employee’s total monthly wage 3,252,600 VND (~USD 140).

Regional minimum wage

For employees of other companies, the regional minimum wage will be paid. Vietnam is divided into four regions, the first one being the urban areas of Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, and the fourth one covering the most rural areas of Vietnam.

According to Decree No. 157/2018/ND-CP, the regional minimum wages in Vietnam starting from January 1, 2019, are:


Monthly minimum salary


4,180,000 (~US$ 180)


3,710,000 (~US$ 160)


3,250,000 (~US$ 140)


2,920,000 (~US$ 125)

On average, the minimum monthly wage in Vietnam increased by 175,000 VND (~US$ 7.5) which makes it a 5.3% climb compared to last year.

payroll management in Vietnam

Despite the annual growth, minimum salaries in Vietnam remain relatively low, in contrast to other ASEAN countries. For example, Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

See when is the best time to hire employees in Vietnam.

Paid and unpaid leaves in Vietnam

Maternity and paternity leaves

Paid maternity leave in Vietnam is six months. However, if the mother has more than one child, she will get one extra month for each additional child.

Pregnant employees are also entitled to have five prenatal check-ups, one full day for each check-up. Furthermore, pregnant employees who live far from health establishments or have complications with their pregnancy can have a two-day leave for each prenatal check-up.

Keep in mind that during maternity leave, the employees must receive their average salary which is fully covered by the insurance fund and capped at 27.8 million VND (~US$ 1,190).

Fathers in Vietnam also have the right to take paternity leave for at least five days.

Sick leave

The general paid sick leave for employees who have been paying the social insurance premiums for under 15 years in Vietnam is 30 days.

However, if the employee has been contributing to the social insurance fund for full 15 years and under 30 years, the paid sick leave can be 40 days, and 60 days when the employee has been paying social insurance premiums for full 30 years or more.

Note that sick leave is covered by the social insurance fund, not by the employer and only Vietnamese employees have been applicable for it so far. However, starting from 1 December 2018, foreign employees also become eligible for sick leave, maternity and paternity leaves, as per Decree 143.

Annual leaves

After working for one year, the employee is entitled to get at least 12 days off. Furthermore, if the employee works under heavy or dangerous conditions or extremely heavy and hazardous conditions, they can get 14 or 16 paid holidays respectively. Plus one additional day for every five years of consecutive service.

Foreign employees are also entitled to one extra paid day off on their own country’s national day and one traditional new year holiday.

Public holidays

There are ten paid public holiday days in Vietnam. If a public holiday falls on a weekend, employees are entitled to have the following day off as well.

Public holidays in Vietnam in 2019

January 1

New Year’s Day

February 4-8

Tết Holidays (Vietnamese New Year)

April 15

Hung Kings Commemoration Day

April 30

Reunification Day

May 1

International Labor Day

September 2

National Day


Employees in Vietnam can also get paid days off for various events. For example, under the Labor Law, employees are granted paid leave for a death in the family, marriage, etc.

Other additional unpaid days depend on special arrangements between employer and employee.

Hiring employees using employer of record service in Vietnam

Payroll management can be a slippery slope, especially in emerging markets such as Vietnam where complex and often-changing regulations are a challenge for every starting business.

Fortunately, there is a way to make the process easier. In fact, using an employer of record service eliminates the worry of falling prey to costly compliance mistakes completely.

An employer of record service, also known as staff augmentation, is an outsourcing strategy for hiring people or a team through a third-party professional service provider such as Emerhub.

payroll management in Vietnam

One of the key advantages of using an employer of record service is that there is no need to learn local compliance regulations. Read our previous article to see other benefits of using the EOR service.

Emerhub can hire your employees in Vietnam on our payroll, or our experienced team of accountants can help you with your payroll management in Vietnam.

Our services include:

  • Accounting and bookkeeping
  • Tax reporting and compliance
  • Payroll management

Get in touch with us by filling in the form below and let us know about the services you are looking for.

Further reading about work permits and other requirements: Employing Foreign Workers in Vietnam

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