Agent reportedly failed to adhere to five provisions of the BOEA regulations

MoLHR: The labour and human resources ministry recently suspended Lama Youth Employment pvt ltd from operations until further notice for breaching several provisions of the Bhutanese Overseas Employment Agents (BOEA) regulations.

The March 16 suspension order states that the agent is not allowed to select, recruit, or deploy jobseekers, including the job vacancies approved earlier, until further notice from the ministry. “All job seekers are asked to refrain from availing services from the agent with immediate effect,” the notification states.

Officials from the overseas employment unit with the ministry said that the agent failed to adhere to five provisions of the BOEA regulations.  An employee of Lama Youth Employment filed a complaint of illegal recruitment process with the ministry, following issues with the proprietor last October.

An investigation found that the agent had sent about 23 job seekers to Dubai without informing the ministry.  The agent also collected Nu 80,000 each from the selected candidates.

It was also found that Lama Youth Employment had conducted a selection interview of the candidates, even when the license was still under suspension last year.  The agent’s license was suspended in August last year, but was revoked after the agent approached the minister.  The license was revoked on September 16 for similar violations, but the selection interview to recruit candidates to work in Dubai was conducted on September 7 and 8.

Lama Youth Employment is the second overseas employment agency, whose operations the labour ministry suspended in less than two months.  The first was Tenzu Overseas Employment agency, whose license was suspended in January this year.

Labour officials said the agent has been suspended until November 2015 for sending candidates illegally to South Korea without the ministry’s approval.  Besides, the agent had also collected about Nu 1.8M (million) from the candidates.

Since 2013, nine overseas employment agencies were established to facilitate jobseekers to find jobs overseas.  Each agent has its destination countries where they have their counterparts.

Labour officials said agents had to submit the “demand letter” they received from their counterparts abroad to the ministry.  The demand letter includes the job profile, salaries, and the kind of vacancies offered, which is approved only after the ministry scrutinises the information.

The BOEA regulation states that jobseekers would be placed through employment agents, who will pay Nu 100,000 as registration fees to the government.  The agents would charge a minimum of a month’s salary of the worker on successful placement.

Some of the occupations under the overseas employment scheme are tourism and hospitality, non-nursing health professionals, teaching (non-trained), information technology professionals, accounting and finance, technicians, sales representatives, care givers and those providing secretarial services.

Jobseekers between 21-40 years, with a minimum of class X qualification and basic skills in any trade, are eligible for the scheme.

Lama Youth Employment couldn’t be contacted for comments, but overseas employment agents said, as new entrants, the business wasn’t without issues.  Besides, they said job seekers, who came to them, were inexperienced, while their counterparts demanded skilled or semi-skilled workers.

“The ministry feels that we aren’t performing, but we’re trying our best, although we are a small company,” Employ Bhutan Overseas’ proprietor Ugyen Tshomo said. “I’ve been targeting reputed companies that provide better salaries.”

Another employment agent said jobseekers that sought their help were those, who don’t have a choice and choose employment through agents as the last resort.

Meanwhile, the ministry plans to send about 30,000 jobseekers under the overseas employment scheme.  To date, only about two percent of the total target of the jobseekers has been employed overseas.

By Kinga Dema