…by temporarily employing more than 180 Bhutanese for more than a year 

Labour: The Mangdechhu Hydropower Project Authority, which has employed more than 180 Bhutanese temporarily for over a year, has violated provisions of the Labour and Employment Act of Bhutan 2007 by not extending the employees’ benefits.

On October 10, the authority’s finance director wrote to the management stating that the authority needs to regularise service of temporary employees working for more than a year.  Regularizing them would mean giving them equal pay for equal work or work of equal nature.

“It is clear that MHPA has committed a mistake in continuing with the service of such employees beyond a year without extending the benefits to them at par with those of the contract employees,” the letter states. “Since MHPA is a project of national importance and is committed to honour the law of the land, it is required that the Act is followed in letter and spirit. Non-compliance of the Act is also a punishable offence under the law. “

MHPA’s Managing Director A K Mishra directed the Human Resource division in Trongsa to ensure compliance on the same letter.

The temporary employees get a consolidated payment on a monthly basis. Such employees are usually employed for six months to a year. Although people are employed on temporary, in many cases, for 1-3 years, continuing their service for more than a year is a labour law violation in Bhutan.

Chapter V, Section 51 of the Labour and Employment Act of Bhutan 2007 applies to employment for duration of one year or more except for employment arrangements between members of a family unless a contract of employment specified otherwise.

Section 52 further states that if an employer assigns the same or similar work for the same wages to an employee employed for a year or more, the employee shall be deemed to have been employed under a contract of employment as set out in Chapter V.

However, MHPA service rule does not have a provision for temporary appointment, the finance director’s letter points out and adds that “all such employees may be regularised as per the act without any further delay.”

Labour and employment Act in Chapter II Section 13 prohibits against discrimination of employees and job seekers. It states that discrimination regarding pay conditions takes place in the case of failure to give equal pay for equal work or work of equal value.

The authority’s chief (P&A), Sonam Wangdi in Trongsa, however, said he has not received the letter yet and refrained from commenting on the letter’s content.

“As far as we’re concerned, we’ve been following procedures during employment, and contract employment are renewed timely,” he said.

MHPA has over 470 employees today.

Nirmala Pokhrel