The ministry said the code was compiled as the Labour Code adopted by the National Assembly in 2012, which has four articles relating to sexual harassment, failed to provide a clear definition of sexual harassment.

Therefore, the code aimed to help remove the legal loopholes in preventing and addressing the issue, Ha Manh Bon, head of the ministry's Legal Department said.

The code would give practical guidance to the government, employers' organisations, trade unions and workers on what sexual harassment in the workplace means, how it could be prevented, and what steps should be taken if it occurred, he said.

The code was expected to be a foundation for employers and workers to develop their own policy or regulation, or integrate this content into their existing policies or regulations to promote healthy, safe, quality and productive workplaces, he said.

ILO Viet Nam Director Gyorgy Sziraczki called the launch of the code a step forward by Viet Nam in the fight against gender-based violence in the workplace.

Sexual harassment could not only result in emotional and physical stress for the victims, affecting their job performance, but also reduce productivity and competitiveness of business, he said.

Bon, from the legal department, said the ministry planned to issue a decree to fine people who harassed others in the workplace in 2016.

A report by MoLISA and ILO in 2012 said victims of sexual harassment in Viet Nam were female workers aged between 18 and 30. However, their culture and the fear of losing jobs prevented many of them from reporting the crimes.

Vietnam News - May 25, 2015