…in addition to child caregivers  

Thukten Zangpo


The government has allowed foreign domestic workers (FDWs) entry with immediate effect. The Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Employment notified the decision on September 8.

However, the ministry stated that the employment of FDW would be strictly confined to the particular household work including caregiving for elderly, sick and differently-abled household members.

In June this year, the government permitted the entry of foreign workers exclusively as foreign child caregivers. This move aimed to encourage families to have more children and reduce the responsibilities of working parents in caring for their kids.

The ministry stated that domestic workers have become crucial due to an increasing number of working parents, ageing populations in need of care, and the requirement for affordable domestic services in the country. “To meet the household demand for domestic helpers, the country must rely on the import of FDWs.”

A study conducted by the Royal Institute of Governance and Strategic Studies revealed that approximately 55 percent of respondents expressed a preference for hiring professional domestic workers.

However, about 31 percent of respondents chose not to employ such help due to concerns about affordability, considering their limited disposable income.

The same study also found that, despite 69 percent of unemployed youths expressing their willingness to work as domestic workers part-time and 39 percent as live-ins, the wages demanded by local domestic workers at Nu 13,040 were twice what employers could afford to pay.

The ministry stated that the hiring of FDWs can be more cost-effective for households or employers compared to hiring local workers, considering differences in wage expectations and labour market conditions.

The ministry has also issued a Guideline for Recruitment and Employment of FDW 2023. This guideline would provide legal protections for domestic workers under labour laws, mitigating exploitation and ensuring fair wages and safe working conditions.

According to the guideline, employers are mandated to sign an employment contract with FDWs at the point of entry, with the regional office of industry, commerce, and employment.

It further added that the ministry will strictly enforce policies against all forms of discrimination, ensuring that FDWs are treated fairly and equally regardless of their nationality, ethnicity, religion, or gender. The country’s labour laws, regulations, and standards will also address the remuneration, working hours, days of rest, and access to essential healthcare for FDWs.

Moreover, a grievance handling mechanism in place under the Department of Labour (DoL) will promptly address any issues that may arise during their employment.

The ministry also stated that the DoL will conduct an impact assessment, either six months or one year from now, to assess the labour market conditions and consider other policy considerations. This assessment aims to determine the necessary requirements for the recruitment of FDWs.