27 foreign child caregivers employed in the country with 43 approved

With the program initiated by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Employment (MoICE) more working parents will be able to satisfactorily balance work and family. There are currently 27 Foreign Child Caregivers (FCC) employed in the country with a total of 43 approved applicants.

MoICE said, “After the pilot program ended, the FCCs are now recruited as any other foreign workers are with several conditions due to the sensitivity of the work. By allowing FCCs in the country the lack of domestic child caregivers may be augmented and help improve the Bhutanese parents’ contributions and productivity to the economy.”

The FCCs are mostly from India and originate from communities close to the border between Bhutan and India. There are no set qualifications requirements for the caregivers.

The category of FCC is available to Bhutanese of all sectors, but there are specific criteria required for engaging an FCC including that the child/children be less than 12 years of age and both parents must be engaged in employment in the country.

The working parents or single parent may apply for only one FCC and no more.

The monthly salaries differ depending on whether the advances were availed upon being engaged by the employers. Similarly, working hours vary depending on the number and ages of the children. The caregivers all reside in the employers’ residence and cannot be housed elsewhere or employed elsewhere either.

Payments made to the FCCs in the country must be in Ngultrums or INR.

The FCC facilities would not include disabled and elderly citizens as the title states this category is only for child caregivers.

Eden Choden Dorji who works in a private sector shared that after the ministry announced the facility for Bhutanese working parents to avail the FCC, she applied and got a caregiver from Datgari near Gelephu. Her child is 8 years old and as both herself and her husband work in private sector which requires long working hour, she was looking for a caregiver for a long time.

She said, the process wasn’t friendly and was quite complicated as it was the first time. “We had difficulty trying to obtain the permit, as we have to apply online through the ministry and then follow up with the immigration. It would help if the ministry could find an efficient and reliable agent to source the caregivers.”

“As she asked for Nu 9,000, we paid her that amount. The caregiver is provided with accommodation, food and all the basic necessities and her salary is all her full saving. Though we had domestic caregivers before, they wouldn’t stay for long term. Caregivers from India are more convenient as they are hardworking and they prefer staying longer. Still finding one is very difficult. The caregiver is hired on contract basis for 3 months and renewed upon their consent with interest,” she added.

Further she extended her gratitude to the ministry for initiating such project which has helped working parents like them. She also hopes such projects related to old aged parents could also come.

She added, “If the ministry could also come up with similar project to look into providing caregivers for the elderly parents who live alone most of the time since their children are far away or are busy with work it would really benefit. It is important to care for our elderly parents and have assistance beside them.”

Yamuna Dulal who works at RMA as an economist also shared, “My child is 4 years old and as both of us are working, we really were in need of a child caregiver. It is very difficult to find caregivers in the country and most of them expect high salary which we can’t afford. With the help from the ministry, we could hire caregiver from a tea state, Nagarkata, India”.

He said, “She is paid Nu 8,000 and provided with food, clothing, accommodation and all the basic amenities. We have hired her for 6 months as of now, and further we are planning to renew the contract. Though we had difficulty in locating the caregiver but after that the on boarding process went smoothly.”

The main challenges that the ministry face regarding FCC were in recruiting. Due to a number of factors including lack of interest, increased economic activity within their own communities and the reluctance from conservative societies to send young people particularly girls to far off regions.

The pilot phase ended in April 2023 under the initiative of Department of Labour, Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Employment. The Lhengye Zhungtshog acknowledged the successful completion of the FCC pilot program and subsequently instructed the ministry to expand the program to the entire country dated 9 June 2023.

The decision was subsequently made by the government to open the category of FCC to the rest of the country. No projections have been made regarding the expected employment.

Documents required for FCC can be submitted online as attachments.

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