Since the programme began in July last year, the attrition rate has been 7 a month

GEP: Less than a year after the guaranteed employment programme (GEP) began, at least seven employees have been leaving their jobs every month.

Records with the labour ministry show that from July 1, 2014 to February this year, 73 employees, comprising 33 males and 40 females, have withdrawn from the programme to date.

Of the total, 12 withdrew after the company shut down, while 18 left for better job opportunities in the corporate sector.  There were 37, who left on personal grounds, while six of them won scholarships abroad.

A labour official with the direct employment scheme (DES) programme, Ugyen Dorji, said that, except for medical cases, if employees under the GEP withdraw, then, as per the guidelines, they are liable to pay 20 percent of the total salary the ministry and their employer had paid them until their resignation.

“This clause is specifically included in the guidelines to curb attrition rate and ensure the seriousness of the job,” Ugyen Dorji said.

From the total, 34 candidates refunded 20 percent of the amount paid, while the remaining 39 are yet to refund the salaries paid to them.

“The money refunded will be reimbursed to the GEP fund and reused for employment under the same programme,” Ugyen Dorji said.

When the programme started, the labour ministry floated 1,312 vacancies, of which 1,240 are filled today.

According to the direct employment scheme guidelines, 2014, the ministry pays a minimum monthly allowance and the employer pays an amount specified in the guidelines, but one, which is not less than the national minimum wage.

Under the programme, the labour ministry bears the monthly allowances of Nu 7,500 for university graduates, Nu 5,250 for class XII graduates, and Nu 3,750 for class X graduates.  Employers pay not less than Nu 3,750 a month.

The allowance support is for a maximum of one to two years, Ugyen Dorji said.

“We still do not get adequate applicants for jobs in the construction sector,” he said. “But hundreds of jobseekers are interested, if the requirement is for an office assistant.”

The task force members under the DES programme monitor the programme on a quarterly basis, Ugyen Dorji said. “We collect attendance sheets at the end of each month, and conduct ad-hoc monitoring with an evaluation form,” he said.

Jobseekers, even today, are still unwilling to take available jobs offered under such programmes, Ugyen Dorji said.

“The social stigma of jobseeker’s mind-set towards private sector is still the same and jobseekers still prefer to work in urban areas,” Ugyen Dorji said. “That’s why the withdrawal cases are increasing.”

By Thinley Zangmo