The Thimphu district court on April 11 ordered the Bank of Bhutan (BoB) to reinstate their employee, Kesang Wangmo to her former position after the bank compulsorily retired her.

The judgment ordered the bank to compensate Nu 22,500 for six months and other benefits for the year she remained unemployed as per the Section 94 (c) of Labour and Employment Act 2007.

The verdict stated that the bank couldn’t prove their basis to compulsorily retire Kesang Wangmo, 40.

Kesang Wangmo was working as an officiating head in Shared Service Division when she took three months maternity leave in March 2017. After the three months, she joined the office but she had to avail EOL for six months. It was sanctioned on July 21, 2017 with an undertaking letter for EOL.

The bank compulsorily retired her after she availed three months maternity leave and an additional extraordinary leave (EOL).

When Kesang Wangmo joined office after her EOL, the bank had already recruited another employee. The bank asked her to work for a month with the human resource officer.

On March 6, 2018, the bank asked her to retire on the grounds that the undertaking letter had clearly mentioned her position is not protected when on EOL.

The BoB had rebutted that they had to employ another to fill in the gap Kesang left while on maternity leave and EOL

Kesang Wangmo had also approached the labour ministry where the ministry’s investigation found that she should be reinstated. However, the bank refused and Kesang appealed to court.

Although, the bank’s legal officer appealed to withdraw the case, the judgment stated that even if the bank had mentioned the position is not secured, this was in contradictory to bank’s leave regulation.

The judgment stated that the as per the regulation all the chiefs should not put additional staff or replace duirng the period of EOL, which is why the court dismissed the undertaking letter.

The replacement should be adjusted internally if required.

It also stated that an employee would be eligible for EOL without salary and they should be placed in the same post or put in the similar post or equivalent position as per the bank rules once rejoined.

According to the judgment, the bank’s service rule was not in line with the Labour and Employment Act of Bhutan 2007.

The judgment stated that BoB’s argument on the grounds of her competency had no evidence and was violating the labour Act.

As per the judgment, an employee can be compulsorily retired after a one-month notice. The bank did not follow this.

“The bank should have borne that responsibility and followed the rules,” the judgment stated.

The BoB has appealed to high court.

Yangchen C Rinzin