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New law hopes to regulate direct bank wage transfers

Direct wage payments to employee bank accounts linked to automatic teller machine cards may be written into law, indicated the Department of Labour-Salary under the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs.

Deputy director Hoang Minh Hao said payments via bank transfer were mentioned in the draft of the Labour Code, which has been proposed to the government for comments, as an alternative to cash payments.

Hao said the intended legislation would improve transparency and employee rights and make it easier to solve money transfer and withdrawal issues.

Work payments to bank accounts have become popular in big cities with ATM systems, and bank accounts could now pay electricity, water and telephone bills and money transfer easily, he added.

However, ATM cards still remain unfamiliar to a majority of employees, especially to workers in industrial zones and those in suburbs and remote areas.

“I often feel annoyed when queuing at an ATM to wait for my turn to take out money – taking out money from the ATMs becomes a hard job,” said Vu Thi Huong, a packing company worker from the Chau Son industrial zone in northern Ha Nam province.

She said the long queue happened every month, when the company paid its workers.

Huong wonders whether instating bank payments would benefit workers as many prefer cash and only use their ATM cards to take out money without using other bank services.

Taking out small amounts of cash is difficult, as ATMs don’t allow the withdrawal of less than VND50,000 ($2.5), which can be a big sum to workers, she added.

Her company has more than 500 workers, and most are paid by direct bank transfers, which means a long ATM line forms as employees from other companies are paid then too.

Many ATMs run out of money, or temporarily stop working, forcing workers like Huong to try several machines before successfully withdrawing cash.

Worker Nguyen Thi Nhu encountered another ATM problem when her card was swallowed by the machine.

“It took time to get my ATM card back and the procedure was quite complicated,” Nhu said.

Experts agree that putting bank account payments into law must be accompanied by the development of the ATM system throughout the country. The bank account wage payments will then be encouraged rather than considered a compulsory method, said Hao.

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