The administration of Can Tho City in southern Vietnam has issued a new code of conduct for public servants, which includes a controversial ban on jeans at the office.
The code of conduct, applicable to all employees of state entities, was signed into effect on Tuesday by Can Tho chairman Vo Thanh Thong, according to the Office of the municipal People’s Committee.
The code requires public workers to be considerate, courteous and affable in communicating with people, and be attentive to inquiries so as to give clear and detailed explanations of regulations related to their field of expertise.
Public workers are also asked to give priority treatment to the elderly, the sick, the disabled and pregnant women, while picking up the habit of saying “sorry” and “thank you” in appropriate circumstances.
For government bodies that do not have uniforms, public workers must wear clothes that are clean, smart and unrevealing, using colors pleasant to the eyes and suitable for the nature of the job, the code of conduct reads.
Men are required to go to work in tucked-in dress shirts, trousers and shoes or sandals, while women must wear either the ‘ao dai’ – a traditional Vietnamese costume – or shirts with office skirts or dresses.
Both male and female public servants are not to wear jeans and T-shirts of any kind to work, according to the code of conduct.
The ban on jeans at the office has been met with public backlash, with some public workers criticizing the new regulation as “inflexible”.
Nguyen Hoang Ba, director of Can Tho’s Department for Internal Affairs who responded to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper’s request for comment, said the ban had been issued after considering precedents set by Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City administrations.
Ba’s department is reportedly the body that requested the ban to be included in Can Tho’s code of conduct.
According to Ba, the city welcomed feedback from agencies and bodies that would be affected by the code of conduct prior to its issuance, but there was no objection to the ban at the time.
“Blue jeans are a complete no-no,” Ba said. “It just doesn’t feel right for civil servants to wear jeans at the office.”
However, contrary to Ba’s claim, Hanoi’s code of conduct does not make any mention of such a ban on jeans, only discouraging public servants from wearing “shirts without collars and sleeves, or dresses shorter than the knee, to work”.
Meanwhile, there is no official code of conduct in Ho Chi Minh City that adjusts the behavior of state employees.