Thinley Namgay  

In a move aimed at promoting work-life balance and rejuvenation among civil servants, the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) has introduced a provision for annual leave (AL).

Initially set at 12 days, the number of AL days has been increased to 21 by the National Assembly (NA), taking into account various factors. The decision comes in response to the grievances expressed by civil servants and their need for longer periods of leave, especially for activities such as pilgrimage trips to Nepal and Tibet.

MP Kinga Penjor of Gangzur-Minjey, the Chairperson of the Economic and Finance Committee, highlighted that the initial 12-day AL was insufficient compared to the AL schemes of other countries, which typically range from 20 to 30 days.

Emphasising the significance of leisure time for civil servants, Penjor stressed the need to encourage employees through both financial incentives and opportunities for rejuvenation, noting that the existing system lacked in this regard.

MP Tenzin of Khatoe-Laya also pointed out the challenges faced by Bhutan due to limited transportation options, with journeys often taking several days.

The government was also urged to consider providing AL for local government officials, who have shorter tenures in office. Additionally, the NA approved leave encashment (LE) for civil servants equivalent to one month’s basic pay, with the accrued balance to be paid within five years after the commencement of the Act.

Other leave provisions such as casual leave, earned leave, and maternity leave remain unchanged.

While some members expressed concerns about the potential burden on future governments due to the extended leave encashment duration, Finance Minister Namgay Tshering suggested that the EL balance payment could be given when employees resign.

The pay revision bill, including the increased AL and LE provisions, was adopted by the NA, paving the way for a salary hike of 55 to 74 percent for public servants starting next month. The bill will now proceed to the National Council for further discussion as a money bill.