Although the Bhutan Civil Service Rule incorporated the extension of the maternity leave by three more months in 2016, most organisations in the private and corporate sector are yet to implement it.

Through the Cabinet’s directives, the maternity leave programme was implemented in most of the state owned corporations.

According to the final 11th Plan report, about 155 private and corporate companies have implemented three months maternity leave and about nine companies have implemented six months maternity leave.

Druk Holding and Investments (DHI) owned, linked and controlled companies implemented the maternity leave programme from last month.

No records were available with the labour ministry on the number of the female employees in the private sector.

According to the labour force survey 2016, there are at least 23,019 female who are regular paid workers.  There are more than 10,000 female civil servants today.

In an earlier interview with Kuensel, the labour minister Ngeema Sangay Tshempo said that implementation of the six months maternity leave in the private sector was difficult.“Besides, there is a possibility of it adversely affecting employment of women in private sector.”

People Democratic Party’s (PDP) had also pledged to introduce a nine-month exit time where the workload would be halved for mothers.

Extension of maternity leave to six months from three months is one of the People Democratic Party’s (PDP) pledges that were to be fulfilled within the first 100 days after assuming the office.

The revision of national minimum wage rate from September 1 in 2015 is one of the fulfilled labour pledges. Since then, category I workers’ minimum wage was revised to Nu324 a day, category II to Nu286, category III to Nu254, category IV to Nu234, and Nu215 revised for unskilled workers.

The revised wage rate approved by the cabinet is applicable only to Bhutanese employed by government agencies for works executed directly by the agencies concerned.

The pledge to introduce a pension scheme for private sector employees and to enforce provident fund and gratuity is being implemented. Although more private and corporate companies embrace the schemes, it was found that private employees were unwilling to join such schemes.

With support from private sector and civil society organisations, the pledge to establish a subsidised meal programme in urban centres for the low salaried employees in the unorganised sector is yet to see any progress. The pledge to achieve full employment also remains unfulfilled.

Rinchen Zangmo