The labour ministry will accept the deployment of foreign workers from one employer to another until the border gates are open and the quarantine for foreign workers is lifted, according to regional labour officials in Gelephu.

The ministry on April 21 issued a public notice stating that the deployment of foreign workers from one employer to another instituted and facilitated during the Covid-19 pandemic was lifted.

The notification stated that the ministry would not entertain the redeployment of foreign workers and that the standard operating procedures for redeployment were invalid.

Officials from the regional labour office said the lifting of labour redeployment measure was revoked immediately after the contractors approached the ministry.

“There is no definite date but the redeployment could be allowed till the border gates are open. The ministry decided to lift the redeployment arrangement based on the Covid-19 relaxation the government announced,” an official said.

Contractors and officials from Construction Association of Bhutan (CAB) appealed to labour ministry to continue with the redeployment plan, as the quarantine for foreign workers is still in effect.

CAB’s executive director, Tshering Yonten said that it was inconvenient to discontinue redeployment measures with the construction sector facing labour shortage.

“We could discontinue when the quarantine for foreign workers is lifted. There are contractors with three sites; they will have to release and import the workers after completing every work if the redeployment is lifted,” he said.

The Prime Minister’s Office on Sunday announced further relaxations of Covid-19 measures and allowed entertainment centres to resume regular business in full capacity, allowing mass gatherings including religious ceremonies, sports with spectators, and in-person meetings, among others.

However, five days of quarantine for foreign workers is in effect to date.

Contractor Chencho Gyeltshen from Gelephu said that the redeployment plan was time-saving and benefitted construction firms. “It takes at least 10 days to bring the same workers back once released. Redeployment helped us to employ them in one or two days,” he said.

“Some contractors imported workers in March, spending at least Nu 35,000 for each worker. It would be a big loss to release them after two months. We pay them at least 50 percent wages while in quarantine,” said Chencho Gyeltshen.

“Redeployment plans also helped the employers to share expenditure incurred while importing the foreign workers. There are many contractors with incomplete work. The redeployment measure must continue till the end of this year,” said the contractor.

Employers have to pay Nu 800 daily per foreign worker for the facility quarantine today.

More than 1,600 foreign workers were imported from Gelephu since April 4, according to the record with regional labour office.