Sharing vision - Bringing Empowerment

When the “spirit” deformed

  • Perform: Loan Nguyễn (Translator: Quang Minh)
  • 25/02/2023

People usually says, God doesn’t give someone all, and does take anything of ones at all Cerebral palsy had forced L.H.Đ to rely on a wheelchair for the rest of his life. But on the plus side, he was heavenly blessed with an extremely intelligent and perceptive mind.

Not complacent to depend on government’s support budget, with the poverty that seems to be imminent, this young man had rolled up his sleeves and did lots of works to make a living. He was not only covered the life of his own but also accumulate a considerable saving. When gained the first “lucrative deal” in his life, with the enthusiasm of youth, D risked it all by opening a small handicraft workshop to support individuals sharing the same background with him, to have a stable job. Till this day, I am still astonishing by D’s decision at that time

In that period of time, not everyone has neither the conditions nor the attempt to use workers who have health limitations. Regardless, D stood to do it and had done well. His business was concidentially, among a handful of business in local that had employed impaired workers. At that time in his small and cozy workshop always bustling with the laughter and chatter of dozens of disabled workers who work there regularly. In those days, thanks to his goodwill spreads far away, no one doesn’t know to L.H.D – the “Pillar” of local impaired people. The local government authority and associations also created more opportunities to assist the workshop, specifically in recognizing businesses that use more than 30% of handicapped workers in 2014. This is the basis for D’s business to receive many discounts in infrastructure renovation expense, tax exemptions for land and space rentals,… especially preferential loans with interest of just 50% of the poor at that time. These benefits as well as D’s business acumen had helped his company quickly form a shape in the handicraft market.

Nothing will happens if L.H.D still keeps his same spirit as before. But when obtained many things to his hands, he changed. At the same time of business expansion to other market aspects, he started to consider how to best optimize the labor power, spend the least amount yet receive as much profit as possible. This placed a challenge to himself and his business because of the limited labor capability of handicapped labors. As of that, he gradually felt his once comrade-in-arms are turning into his weightful burden. He steadily be strict with them, hired more non-disabled workers, which led other impaired workers to leave the business. This disruption in employment situation had consequently made D unable to guarantee the regularity condition of having upper 30% of handicapped labor force who had stable works and jobs as stated. Besides, exemptions in land and space rentals, preferential loans, business income tax… and other support of local agency will be vanished to vain. He regretted that, because he well understood those supports are the fundamentals of building up his assets. In case without those benefits, the already minimal profits would be in a deficit, even to no profit. Doesn’t that mean all his achievements end up nothing? He afraid…

Then there is a daring thought emerging to his head. He came up with a "legal loophole" solution, which was to "borrow" the names of some impaired individuals who were working independently to sign labor contracts on their behalf. Taking advantage of his reputation and the lacking of knowledge of some disabled people, he convinced them by saying: “You see, we impaired people are to work independently without any health insurance, so there are nowhere to turn for help. I also want to support everyone to have this card of insurance, but honestly, my resources are limited, so I'm reaching out to you first, and I will cover the assistant to others later. Since my company requires documentation for registration, we need your signatures on the employment contract along with some accompanying documents...”. Through this method, he already acquired a significant number of labors, who are under another identity “handicapped workers” to report on related government agencies about the annual labor situation. He only had to incur expenses (such as social insurance, relationship costs, etc.) which were insignificant to him, in order to avoid hiring many disabled workers while still enjoying the benefits provided by the government and expanding production, business as desired. He even managed to extend the Recognition Decision in 2018. Having tasted the sweetness from the scheme, he plans to repeat this in the following years.

But they say, 'The sky may be sparse, but it is difficult to escape its net.' This plan, implemented for a few years, had crumbled. He is gradually experiencing the karmic consequences of his actions. Meeting again on the first day of spring, I am startled by his transformation. Where is the once spirited and passionate young man? The consequences of deceitful games, disregarding laws and ethics, has turned him into a man with a cynical face, burdened with a gaze filled with worries and hints of panic. He seeks solace in alcohol. When intoxicated, he expresses his sorrowful thoughts: when sketching out the scheme, he was filled with hesitation. He partly feared legal responsibilities, partly remorseful for taking advantage of those who trusted him. But then, the economic interests overshadowed his conscience; furthermore, he deluded himself into believing that he was giving a hand to them to achieve social security. Thus, he made the decision to proceed. But looking back now, he thinks, 'If only I hadn't done it...'

In late 2018, new legal regulations regarding the management, inspection, and examination of manufacturing and business establishments were enacted, stared in case the number of disabled employees exceeded 30% of the total workforce, these businessses would receive preferential treatment. Moreover, as part of the personnel rearrangement process, the state officials whom D knew were also transferred. Since then, he has been unable to have complete autonomy in manipulating relationships to deceive government agencies regarding labor utilization. He began to struggle to find ways to cover up his actions, such as terminating labor contracts with those who were "borrowing" identities, and recruiting disabled workers to comply with the procedures. However, recruitment now became complicated, as local disabled individuals had spread word about his attitude and treatment towards employees during that time. He ended up searching for personnel from distant locations. While he was still trying to construct a facade for himself, in early 2020, the Department of Labor, Invalids, and Social Affairs had commanded an unannounced inspection of his company. Through the inspection, the responsible agency found a discrepancy between the actual number of disabled workers in the company and the previously reported list, which the business owner didn’t report to the Department as required. Although he explained the change and discrepancies in the number of workers and reasons for not reporting them in time, he was still fined for administrative violations related to not reporting updates in labor conditions as regulated. Not to mention, with the current number of workers, his company failed to meet the requirement of having at least 30% of the total workforce comprised of disabled individuals. This resulted in the revocation of the issued recognition decision and processing according to legal provisions.

Didn’t recognize as a manufacturing or business establishments with upper 30% of handicapped people implies that the state's preferential policies currently enjoyed will also cease. At this point, it is time to repay and not defer the loans from social policy banks. Indeed, "misfortune never comes singly," his business was faced with obstacles such as high rental costs, with exorbitant commercial interest rates, and a decline in workers beacause experienced employees leaving... As a result, production and business activities are encountering difficulties and had gradually been minimizing under the influence of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, these things may pale in comparison to the fact that his enterprise had left a "stain" on the eyes of the competent state authorities, led to his own reputation had declined too within the local community of handicapped people. Much worse, information about him exploiting of the names of disabled individuals to deceive and exploit the state's preferential policies had also been disclosed.

Actions dictate the consequences”. Will he be entangled in the cycle of justice to pay back for his greedy actions or not?

* Article 3 of Circular No. 26/2012/TT-BLDTBXH, dated November 12, 2012, issued by the Minister of Labor - Invalids and Social Affairs, amended and supplemented by Clause 1 of Article 1, Circular No. 18/2018/TT-BLDTBXH dated October 30, 2018 (effective from December 18, 2018) dictates the responsibilities for reporting on labor conditions and inspecting, examining manufacturing and business establishments employing more than 30% of disabled workers.

“ Article 3: Documentation, procedures, and recognition process for manufacturing and business establishments employing more than 30% disabled workers are entitled to benefits

...3. When a production or business establishment fails to employ more than 30% disabled workers, the representative of the establishment is responsible for timely reporting, and the Department of Labor - Invalids and Social Affairs shall instantly decide to revoke the recognition of the production or business establishment employing more than 30% disabled workers.

…4. Annually, the Department of Labor - Invalids and Social Affairs is responsible for inspecting and examining production and business establishments employing more than 30% disabled workers. If the production or business establishment does not meet the requirements, the previously granted recognition will be revoked, and appropriate measures will be taken in accordance with the provisions of the law."