Absenteeism after the New Year is an annual problem, but most factories cannot afford at a time when Covid-19 has already depleted the workforce.
Though footwear maker Samho Vietnam in Cu Chi District had to shut down operations for three months last year due to Covid curbs, it is striving to pay its employees a one-month bonus.
“To make this happen the company has had to mobilize from many sources, including borrowing from the government,” its union labor chairman Nguyen Thanh An said.
The company, which has 10,000 workers, failed to fulfill many orders last year and had to export by air since road transport was restricted, which caused its logistics costs to skyrocket to over VND200 billion ($8.8 million).
Faced with a resource crunch, it had to withhold salaries and ask the government for a bailout.
“Those were the most difficult days in my 26 years at the company,” An said.
When the city started to reopen in October the company's payroll had reduced by nearly 1,000 workers.
It is now concerned the absentee rate will increase after Tet, which falls in the first week of February this year, and so is striving to preclude it.
It also gave its employees a 5 percent increase in base salary to encourage long-term commitment.
It will arrange buses to take 4,000 workers to their hometowns in other provinces, and rented 100 houses for workers returning after Tet .
It is set to spend a total of VND100 billion.
Garment producer Vinatex's southern factories have a 10 percent payroll shortage, or around 6,000 workers, and the shortage is growing since other sectors like services and tourism are starting to recover.
Nguyen Thi Thuy, its deputy chairwoman, said ensuring jobs and income is the best way to retain workers at this time.
Earlier this month the company told its employees that it has enough orders for them to work on until the end of the third quarter.
It too had to overcome financial challenges to pay employees an average bonus of 150 percent of their salary.
It has also promised them a cash bonus as “lucky money” when they return after the holiday.
A recent survey by recruitment platform Viec Lam Tot found that 22 percent of workers plan to quit after Tet if they are not paid a cash bonus and 13th month's salary.
Those who have worked for less than two years are most likely to quit, it said.
Nearly four out of 10 employees (37 percent) will stay back if their pay is increased.
Tran Minh Ngoc, director of Viec Lam Tot, said the 13th month's salary paid as a bonus is very important to workers, and companies should strive to pay it.
Other benefits like meals, housing support and pay increase also play a key role in persuading workers to commit long term, she added.
To encourage workers to return, HCMC's Center for Human Resource Forecasting and Labor Market Information is providing free Covid tests and transportation to workers.
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