Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Bhutan : Alterations in labour rules

16 June 2008 - Paid annual leave will be 30 working days instead of 12, sick leave and paid leave will be 10 days and maternity leave will now be two months instead of 1.5 months, according to the latest modifications to the labour rules’ minimum standards being drafted under the Labour Act.

Even the proposal to pay gratuity and the employer’s share after only five years will be re-examined by the ministry.

The changes came into effect after the ministry had a series of meetings with private employers and employees in Thimphu, Phuentsholing and Gelephu.

The catch, however, is that, for the annual leave. employers have suggested that one day of leave be calculated for every 10.5 days of work. Also, it has been suggested that, instead of having the earlier 1.5 months maternity leave for three babies, it be made two months but for only two babies. The provident fund rate will be at the minimum 5 percent contribution from both employer’s and employee’s sides. Employers have also asked that study leave and extraordinary leave be included in the regulations.

Private employers also expressed that the penalties of prison term were too harsh under the child labour system. “Even these conditions are the minimum standards which companies will have to follow and they are more than welcome to follow better terms with their employees” said the director general of the labour department, Pema Wangda. He also said that some kind of minimum standards were needed to ensure that even small businesses could follow the labour laws.

On the unorganized sector, like small restaurants and shops where many Bhutanese workers are present, the director said that even they had to follow these minimum standards.

He, however, clarified that there were certain exceptions like the occupational health and safety clause, that applied to all except for farming, which makes the labour law more flexible.


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