Bhutan’s job market sees a different picture

Govt has little say on private employees 

The ministry does not set the maximum limit or ceiling for employers to pay: Department of labour

With the soaring prices of commodities and high rental charges every year, the expense in the country has become very high. Even more challenges are faced amongst the private employees who are not able to meet the current expenses.

However, the wages amongst the private employees depends upon the experience and ones talent. Sources say a well established private company head earns about Nu 0.15mn to Nu 0.3mn per month while some private employee earn just about Nu 8000 – Nu 10,000 per month.

The Director of the Department of Labour (DoL), Ministry of Labour and Human Resources (MoLHR), Lham Dorji said that the Ministry does not set the maximum ceiling for the private employers to pay, however, the department encourages negotiating salaries among the employer and employees in private companies.

“In terms of remuneration, the ministry does not set the maximum limit or ceiling for employers to pay. The ministry encourages employees and workers to negotiate their salary or wages with employers,” Director Lham Dorji said, adding that in cases where there is a dispute between employers and employees, the DoL works to resolve the issues and enforce the existing laws and regulation.

The Director said that last year the review of the national minimum wage (NMW) was proposed and a small study was done on the same however, due to the pandemic situation at the time the ministry was advised to review the national work force (NWF) wages rates instead.

“The NWF are those Bhutanese workers directly engaged by government agencies for government projects or work,” the director said, adding that a revision of their wage rates was then proposed earlier this year by the ministry to the government.

However, due to the current economic conditions brought by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic the government decided as recommended by the Ministry of Finance (MoF) to postpone the revision until the economy had time to recover, according to Lham Dorji.

Meanwhile, section 138 of the Labour and Employment act of Bhutan, 2007 empowers the MoLHR to fix a minimum wage.

The section 138 states that the Ministry may in consultation with the government, the employers and the employees fix a minimum wage or wages to come into effect: 90 calendar days after making of the order: or form a date fixed by the ministry in the order but not earlier than the dates of the order.

Similarly, chapter five National Minimum Wages of the Regulation on Working Conditions, 2022 states the setting, adjustment and enforcement of the national minimum wage (NMW) or wages.

The section 80 of the Regulation on Working Conditions, 2022 states that an employer shall not pay an employee less than the NMW set or adjusted by the Ministry.

The same regulation of the section 81 states that an employer who contravenes section 80 of this regulation shall pay a fine for each contravention as follows: first instance: ninety times the daily NMW, followed by second instance: 180 times the daily NMW, third and repeated instance: 360 times the daily NMW.  

Meanwhile, till date DoL has no record of the workers paid below NMW. Director Lham Dorji said, “The NMW rate is Nu 125 per day and as of now there are no record instances of any worker in the country being paid below the NMW.”  

Sherab Dorji from Thimphu