… however, placing workers abroad is expected to take two months

Dechen Dolkar

The Cabinet approved resuming the overseas employment programme last month with the condition that the labour ministry ensures the safety and security of those who availed of the employment opportunities.

The overseas employment was put on hold after the first Covid-19 case emerged in the country in March last year.

An official from the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources (MoLHR) said that however, placing Bhutanese workers overseas in the destination countries will take about two months.

“The process in-between includes verification, announcement, selection, and training.  This is to ensure the safety and security of the Bhutanese wanting to go overseas for employment,” the official said.

He said that currently, the ministry collaborates with five countries under the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, India, Israel, Korea, and Japan in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and other relevant agencies.

He said that they are exploring opportunities in other advanced economies to employ Bhutanese.

He said that sending Bhutanese for employment overseas would be the last resort after exhausting all opportunities within the country. “Therefore, the ministry is making equal efforts on this front.”     

The official also said that to avoid human trafficking, the ministry recommends Bhutanese going to work overseas to route through a Bhutanese certified and registered placement agent.

The ministry also cautions the public against dealing with fake agents that could lead to fraud and human trafficking cases.

The official said that the ministry has initiated a multistakeholder process to approve the foreign travels of any Bhutanese related to overseas employment. The stakeholders include the Department of Immigration, the Department of Law and Order and the foreign ministry.

A standard operating procedure (SOP) has been developed for the stakeholders whereby any Bhutanese wanting to go overseas to work must seek clearance from the MoLHR.

The certification process includes producing attested documents like demand letters, insurance and medical coverage, etc. from the foreign employer along with the valid employment visa. A legal undertaking has to be signed by the parents or guardians of the Bhutanese going abroad to work.

The ministry recommends Bhutanese opt for work that will further develop and enhance their skills and knowledge. The ministry scrutinises every type of employment before approving their foreign travel.

Labour Minister Karma Dorji, during the question hour session in the National Assembly, last week said 139 youths went to work in 16 countries after overseas employment resumed.