Children’s involvement in economic activities

Source: Viet Nam National Child Labour Survey 2012

Nationwide, more than 2.8 million children are engaged in economic activities, and more than 1.7 million children are engaged in child labour. Of those child labourers, 60% are boys and 40% are girls.

85% of child labour occurs in rural areas. The agricultural sector comprises 67% of child labourers, followed by manufacturing, construction, and service industries. A bit more than half of the children in child labour do not attend school, and 32% work more than 42 hours a week.

Many working children operate in open air, informal, and hard-to-reach workplaces. They often perform dangerous tasks in toxic environments and extreme temperatures. 1.31 million working children are at risk of engaging in hazardous work.

Child labour by gender

Source: Viet Nam National Child Labour Survey 2012



Viet Nam ratifies the Palermo Protocol on Trafficking in Persons and the country commits to taking measures against transnational organized crime. The Labour Code 2012 includes a chapter on minor workers that specifies the minimum working age and the types of jobs permitted.


The country passes the Law on Occupational Safety and Health, which aims to protect workers, including adolescents and children, from health and safety risks in the workplace. The Penal Code 2015 defines hazardous, heavy, or toxic work and stipulates legal sanctions for employers who violate the law.


Viet Nam passes the Law on Children, the first law to stipulate legislation on children’s rights. The country implements National Programmer 1023, which aims to raise awareness about the risks of child labour in all sectors—especially the informal sector—and societal levels. It provides direct interventions for vulnerable children and capacity building for authorities


  • Establish a National Child Labour and Business Forum that involves SMEs and big brands. A Code of Conduct around child labour, value chains, and sub-contracts should be developed. All actions should comply with international labour standards, especially in the context of Viet Nam’s increased economic integration.
  • Provide targeted economic opportunities and social benefits to families of child labourers in need. Minors not in education and already engaged in economic activities should have access to decent and legal work opportunities.
  • Implement a social media awareness-raising programme. It should inform the private sector as well as the public about child labour issues.
  • Raise awareness about trafficking and improve the means of communications at all levels of government. Communication strategies designed to prevent child labour and trafficking should be created for each target group. Specific activities should be organized for high-risk groups, especially those in remote areas.
  • Reduce children’s vulnerability to trafficking. This may be accomplished through employment creation and poverty reduction, as well as theprovision of relevant skills training and income-generating opportunities, particularly in remote regions and within communities of ethnic
  • Improve the quality of vocational skills training. This may be accomplished through the review and revision of curricula according to market demand.
  • Raise awareness among communities, families, and children about the dangers of child labour and inform them about the benefits of education. Develop communication strategies, materials, and activities designed to reduce child labour and child trafficking. Form student clubs and other groups in schools.
  • Review the legal framework on child labour and forced labour. A list of hazardous jobs in the agricultural sector should be developed. Laws and decrees on child labour and child protection should impose penalties for deterrence.
  • Strengthen poverty reduction and income generating programmes and provide career counselling, vocational skills training, and job placement for older children and youth in rural areas. Formulate pilot models to support families with children. Review support mechanisms and develop preferential mechanisms and policies to encourage private local enterprises to create new job opportunities for local workers.
  • Increase awareness-raising and communications around child labour. Communications should focus on the legal framework, the negative effects of child labour on children’s well-being, and poverty reduction. They should target local government institutions, families, parents, and children. Awareness-raising around free trade agreements, as well as the elimination of child labour in agricultural value chains, is also necessary. These communications should target public and private sector enterprises.


  • Viet Nam’s second National Child Labour Survey (NCLS) has been completed and the report will be published in August 2020.
  • The Labour Code 2019, which comes into effect in 2021, has been revised in alignment with international standards and its scope has been expanded to protect workers in the informal economy, where the majority of child labour takes place. Clearer provisions on minor workers are also provided in the revised
  • To guide the implementation of the provisions relating to the minor workers in the revised Labour Code, a circular on regulations and guidelines for implementing legislation on the employment of persons under 15 years of age is currently under development, the MOLISA department for Safe Work is also updating a circular on the list of light jobs permitted for 13 to 15 year olds; a circular on the list of jobs and workplaces prohibited for 15 to 18 year olds, and developing a circular to provide guidance on overtime work and night work undertaken by 15 to 18 year olds.
  • In June 2020, Viet Nam’s National Assembly voted to ratify ILO Convention 105 on forced labour, which will come into force after one year.
  • Education, training and livelihood support intervention are being provided to children and families in target provinces


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“To address the problem of child labour, especially to protect children from heavy, dangerous, and hazardous work, the active participation and collaboration of all stakeholders in society is needed,including state agencies, businesses, trade unions, social organizations, families, and communities.”

Doan Mau Diep, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Labour, Invalids, and Social Affair
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