Overseas Employment Scheme resumes

With the official approval from the Cabinet in the end of the September 2021, the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources (MoLHR) has resumed the Overseas Employment Scheme, which was put at halt after the first detection of COVID-19 case in the country in March 2020.

The scheme was initially implemented in 2013, and since then, the ministry has placed more than 8,000 candidates in jobs in various countries till March 2020. Meanwhile, the ministry has brought in certain changes in their overseas rules and regulations to make sure human trafficking of person does not happen, and to avoid cases where unlicensed agents sent Bhutanese workers abroad as housemaids, which is not an approved job listing.

Given those cases in the past where people took advantage of the situation, MoLHR has developed a Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs) to eliminate such crimes.

Ever since the scheme was resumed in September 2021, the ministry has facilitated and employed 370 candidates under the scheme. And as of now, the ministry has sent the candidates to the Middle-East countries, Thailand, Japan, Australia, Singapore and India. However, the ministry has not sent anyone to India since 2018.

An official from the Overseas Employment Unit, MoLHR said, “Once the scheme has resumed, we have been receiving quite a good number of people who wish to travel abroad for jobs, of which we have seen more female candidates. Most of them are being placed in retail and hospitality sector, and few in fitness and IT.”

Under the SOPs, the people wanting to travel on their own for employment will now have to get the clearance from MoLHR, she said, adding that the ministry is trying to track the people who are going through illegal agents.

MoLHR now requires attested documents, even though it is quite challenging and inconvenient for the candidates to get the documentation for travel process and duration. However, it is being done for their own safety and benefit, she added.

“No matter for what job they are going, they will have to route it through us. The other relevant agencies will also direct everyone who comes to them with employment purposes to us. So, that way, I feel it would act as deterrent to any illegal offences,” she added.

Likewise, penalties have been revised for those who operate an agency without a license.

Given the pandemic situation and lockdown in the country, she said, “All the documentations were done online, and it all went well so far. The only challenge we faced is that we were not able to give the candidates pre-briefing, personally, before their departure and we don’t know how they will seek in the briefing, which was given virtually.”

Meanwhile, she said that the ministry has a monitoring mechanism in place. The ministry monitors the candidates, whereby an official from the ministry would travel abroad to get updates on the situation of the Bhutanese employed abroad before the pandemic.

However, “Now, with the pandemic, we get the updates on the candidates from the respective registered agents on a quarterly basis,” she added.

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One comment

  1. I worked in United Arab Emirates of Dubai for three years, due to pandemic I had to leave my job and come back to bhutan by the time government of Bhutan resumed over sea work abroad by the time I got 30 years old and I could not go out due to age limit, I still want to go there but I don’t know how can I go. Is there any way I can go from here like I went before via agency?

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