Ministry of Labour and Human Resources (MoLHR) met with the employers and employees, mostly women, of eleven drayangs across Thimphu. Director, MoLHR, Jigme Thinley briefed them on the Labour Act 2007. He said that MoLHR is enforcing the provident fund (PF) scheme in drayangs, where 5 percent of amount is to be paid by employees and 5 percent by its employers. This, he said, is being done for the safety of the employees of drayangs.
PF is a saving scheme for the employees, which will benefit them in their old age. “If you save PF for about ten years, with that many amount, you have a choice whether to start a business or invest in building a house. It can give good education to your children and be self-reliant,” Jigme Thinley said.
Officials from other agencies, like NPPF, RENEW and BICMA also highlighted on the safety of women, and right to freedom of speech and expression during the meeting.
Chief Officer, NPPF, Sonam Yeshi said most of the youth are reluctant to join the private sector as they think there is no PF. He added, “It is not that private employees are not entitled for PF. We have just carried out PF with government services, government corporations and the three armed forces. We will focus on the private sector; NPPF has registered about 52,000 clients.”
NPPF regulates the PF of government agencies, state-owned corporations and the three armed forces, while Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan and Bhutan Insurances Limited regulate the private firms.
Labour Employment Officer, Phuntsho Dhendup said government servants and private employees are entitled to get PF after completing an incubation period of five years or according to the internal contract signed with employers.
The owner of Tashi Ta gey Drayang raised concerns over paying PF for the duration of five years as he said employees may leave the job in between the period. According to the Labour Act, both the employer and employee cannot terminate the job without handing in prior notice, as both the parties have to issue either a notification letter or a resignation letter.
Some of the drayang employees raised issues, like their employers cutting Nu 3000 in fines for coming late to work, working beyond the normal work hours, and having to pay Nu 30,000 as when they want to leave the drayang.
Labour officials said while the employees have to abide by the rules and regulation of the employers, however, employees can submit a resignation letter a month ahead. “Labour Employment Act doesn’t need drayang employees to pay back Nu 30,000 if they leave without taking the last month’s salary,” said MoLHR officials.
Drayang employees are entitled to claim 50 percent more as overtime payment for duties performed between 10pm to 8am the following morning and working during public holidays.
Proprietor of Kalapingka Drayang, Kezang Phuntsho raised concerns on the investment made on training the employees during the probation period of six months. MoLHR Director Jigme Thinley said drayang employers must get approval from the ministry for training their employees, and the ministry then assists the employer and employee in signing the contract.
A councilor at RENEW, Karma Choden said that since most of the employees in drayangs are women, therefore, both the employers and employees have to be aware of their safety and rights. She pointed out that the work environment must be made safe and conducive for all people working in the drayangs.
In 2013, RENEW registered complaints, seeking help in finding the fathers of their unborn children, from the women working in drayangs. RENEW asked women employees to be extra careful and be cautious while entertaining the male customers.
RENEW, after proper investigation of cases, provides shelter for victims of sexual and domestic violence for 6 months. In an investigation on drayangs carried out by MoLHR in 2013, it was found that three minors, below 18 years, were employed in the drayangs, which is prohibited by the Labour Act.
Officials from NCWC and RENEW urged the participants in the meeting to report any incident that they come across, like child abuse, domestic violence and sexual harassment. Proprietor of Tashi Ta Gey suggested keeping a toll free number to call the agencies for help.
Article 8(5) of the Constitution states a person shall not tolerate or participate in acts of injury, torture or killing of another person, terrorism, abuse of women, children or any other person and shall take necessary steps to prevent such acts. Article 9(17) and 9(18) elaborates that the state shall endeavor to take appropriate measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination and exploitation against women and children.