The Finance Minister Lyonpo Namgay Dorji said that the Ministry of Finance is currently studying the issue of maternity leave for State Owned Enterprises (SOE).
“The SOE’s are independent with their own service rules and we cannot directly order them but we can indirectly influence them.”
Lyonpo said that once the study is done the issue would be communicated to the respective boards of the SOEs.
“We would like to encourage them to go for maternity leave but the issue is on the modality as each company’s situation is different,” said Lyonpo.
He pointed out that while some companies were doing financially well there were others who already dependent on support from the MoF through subsidies. The ministry, therefore, particularly needed to study this aspect.
Lyonpo said that it was also necessary to see whether there should be a uniform system or something different.
He said that once the study was done the MoF would convey its ‘request’ to the respective boards of the SOEs.
In response to a question the minister said, “I don’t think any of the SOEs will refuse to implement the maternity leave since women and children are a part and parcel of society and people working in SOE’s are people as it is not run by robots. It is also the national policy now.”
The minister pointed out that Bhutanese people do not comprise of only civil servants but also other people when it came to maternity leave.
The SOEs are those companies who came directly under the MoF like Bhutan Development Bank Limited, Bhutan Broadcasting Service, Kuensel, Food Corporation of Bhutan, Bhutan Lottery, Bhutan Duty Free etc. While DHI and its companies are also SOE’s they have an autonomous management system with its own charter to preserve its corporate autonomy and enhance its efficiency.
With regard to DHI and its companies the Finance Minister pointed out that DHI is already doing its own study on the issue.
He said that given that the Finance Secretary is also a board member of DHI the MoF was in a position to also encourage DHI on the issue.
Meanwhile employees and SOE’s are apprehensive that if the MoF or the boards take too long then it could lead to a very delayed implementation denying mothers of the maternity leave contrary to the government policy.
Lyonpo Dorji Choden who is also the Chairperson of the National Commission of Women and Children (NCWC) recently wrote letters to the Ministry of Finance (MoF), Druk Holdings and Investment (DHI) and Ministry of Labour and Human Resources (MoLHR) on the issue of Maternity Leave outside the civil service.
Lyonpo Dorji Choden had clarified that the letters sent to the three organizations were not instructions or orders but it talked about maternity leave outside the civil service and on what could be done to implement it.