Though the Guaranteed Employment Program (GEP) by the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources (MoLHR) is considered to be a successful one, however, employers and employees are raising concerns on it, and it is mainly related to salary scale and job relevancy.
As of now, the ministry has received 3 to 4 written complaints, but most have been verbal complaints, especially in regard to delay in salary payment. There have been also issues in terms of the amount of regular paper work required from the hiring companies and also employees.
There is also an emerging concern that those who do the Guaranteed Skill Programs are mainly jobless as they are not eligible for the Guaranteed Employment Program.
There are also problems of GEP candidates not turning up for interviews or GEP employees leaving their jobs without informing their companies.
One peculiar trend is that in spite of the generous nature of the scheme large numbers of unemployed youth are not applying.
However, there are also many who say that the GEP scheme overall is a positive one that helps both the private sector and also people looking for jobs.
The employers have a right to terminate the work contract lawfully, if the employee stays absent for 10 days or more, except on serious medical grounds. “If the company is terminating a candidate lawfully then the candidate is liable to pay 20 percent of the total amount to ministry and to the employer, where as if they are terminating the employee unlawfully then the employer is liable to pay 20 percent to the ministry and a lump sum amount to the candidate,” Ugyen Dorji said.
He also said that, as per the law, the candidate is not allowed to stay on leave or on maternity leave during their probation period. However, he also said that if the employers terminate the work contract on a mutual understanding then the employer need not have to pay the lump sum amount to the candidate, which might lead the company to be black listed, whereby MoLHR will not entertain the call for any vacancy from that particular company and the candidate as well.
In case of GEP candidates resigning lawfully or under unavoidable circumstances like, on medical grounds, he said that the employees do not have to pay to the ministry. However, if a GEP candidate resigns unlawfully then the candidate has to pay 20 percent of the total amount to both the ministry and the employer.
MoLHR has only six staff to handle the programs where two to three thousand candidates enrolled. “We do the monitoring after every three months and it is tough to monitor more than 2000 candidates with six people,” Ugyen Dorji said.
He added that it takes a joint effort, on part of the ministry, employees and employers, to make the work environment more stable and conducive to growth. “The issues usually arise from the candidate, those with attitude problems,” he added.
The youth that are employed through GEP cannot take part in any other job interview. An employee working in a private agency said that GEP is a good opportunity for the youth to be employed, but at the same time, he said it was like a trap. “Once we sign the contract through GEP, we can’t grab the opportunity which is much better than what we are doing.”
He added that while signing his work contract, his position was that of a machine operator, but in reality, he said that he is more or less like a day labour in the field as he never gets a chance to even touch or operate the machines.
“I would be very grateful if personals from labour can come and at least do the inspection once in a while, so that they can know what we are told at the beginning and what the company is making us do,” he added.
Another private company employee said, “I don’t have a complaint with regard to the salary, they pay us on time but job relevancy is the main issue with me.”
He also said, “I applied for the post of an assistant carpenter, but today in work station, I am working as a labourer,” adding that the workload is very heavy for him. “We made several complaints in the ministry, but so far we didn’t get an effective output from the government side.”
On the other hand, an owner of a private organization said that it is difficult to manage the staff assigned through GEP.
He said, “They are relaxed. They think that they will get paid, no matter if they work or just stay idle.” He added that they talk back to the supervisors when they are asked to do the work. He said they do not respond to threats of salary deduction for not doing their work. “The reply I got from them was, why do you want to deduct money which is not yours? They started saying government is paying them,” he added.
“It is always a bitter experience for me because if we ask them to work, they say the workload is heavy, and when we see their performance, it is always zero till date.”
He said that he sees no changes in system or in the staff even after making several complaints to the ministry.