… expected to facilitate the recruitment of caregivers 

 Yangyel Lhaden

The government, since June, has allowed recruitment of foreign workers strictly as only-child caregivers to ease the burden on working parents in childcare and to increase their work productivity.

Eligible individuals to employ foreign child caregivers (FCCs) have to follow a stringent set of guidelines along with other relevant laws in the country which are aimed to ensure maximum protection for FCCs and to recruit the best caregiver.

Bhutanese households have been bringing in foreign domestic helpers and there were incidences of exploitation of foreign domestic helpers by employers. The first trafficking in person was reported in 2007 when a 16-year-old non-Bhutanese girl was brought to Thimphu to work as a babysitter.

Last year, in February, the Department of Immigration (DoI) announced a one-time chance for Bhutanese to surrender illegal foreign domestic helpers. From March 1, 2022, individuals caught with illegal foreign domestic helpers would be prosecuted as a fourth-degree felony, carrying a potential sentence of three to five years upon conviction, the notification read.

“We want to be careful and ensure maximum protection to FCCs while also ensuring proper screening process to get someone with whom our child can be entrusted with,” Industry, Commerce, and Employment, Minister Karma Dorji said. “We developed the guideline looking at the past history where lessons learnt were incorporated and it also aligns with current acts, rules, and regulations.”

Currently, there are about 40 FCCs recruited through the labour department. 


Foreign child caregiver applications are limited to single parents or couples where both spouses are employed and have children below 12 years. Applicants must be able to provide a minimum salary of Nu 4,500, along with free accommodation and food.

An employer should provide shelter from the elements, an individual bed, full access to toilet facilities, space for personal items, and clothing to FCCs. An employer should also open a bank account for the FCC.

An FCC should be above 18 years and must be from approved source countries to prevent child labour and human trafficking. The FCCs cannot have a pre-existing relationship with any of the household members. They also cannot have any ties of blood or marriage which might cause issues with regard to citizenship.

The approval and sourcing of the FCC will be based on the vetting done by DoI as per their Act and Regulations.

The employer, tripartite representative of the labour department and FCC must sign a contract agreement including permission for stakeholders particularly labour and immigration officials to enter private homes for assessment and monitoring.

An FCC will be given a one-time work permit for a maximum of three years which could be extended by another two years considering FCC has not contravened any of the clauses and laws of the land. After five years, the FCC has to leave the country and cannot apply for entry again.

Department of Labour shall coordinate with DoI, National Commission for Women and Children, and Royal Bhutan Police, Royal Monetary Authority to ascertain and monitor the safety of the FCC, the guideline states.

According to the guideline, FCC and employers would be monitored strictly with random inspection and scheduled appointments by the relevant stakeholders. In the event of the FCC not following their contract and the employer contravening the relevant laws, the employers would be dealt with as per relevant laws. Failure to appear when required will also result in a penalty for employers.

The guideline specifies that special inspections of FCCs are allowed in response to complaints or calls for help. If privacy concerns arise, law enforcement, accompanied by representatives from relevant agencies, can investigate reports or complaints of mistreatment to the FCC.