Activities

a) Labour Protection Division

  • Inspecting enterprises (by inspectors empowered by law), to educate, inform and advise employers on the content and meaning of laws, encourage self-compliance and, if necessary, gain compliance through enforcement measures.

  • Monitoring the implementation of laws with a view to identifying weaknesses and shortcomings thus enabling improvements to be made


  • Extending labor inspection services, particularly concerning occupational safety and health, to workers not covered by formal contractual arrangements including self-employed persons, family businesses and farmers.


  • Reporting on the outcome of each inspection visit, preparing regular reports on the operation of the labor inspection and labor relations systems, and preparing an annual report to the Ministry.


  • Coordinating and information sharing with all other departments and agencies, both government and private, concerned with labor inspection and labor protection.


  • Shaping new policies by collecting information, undertaking basic research, and assisting in drafting policy papers on wages, occupational safety and health, and other matters.


  • Supervising the work and operations of labor inspectors in three regional offices.


  • Implement and enforce OHS rules and regulation and laws governing OHS at work places.


These to be achieved through

  • Routine Inspection These visits are either announced or unannounced and the Labour Inspectors check as many issues as possible. Every enterprise liable for inspection to be visited at least once a year


  • Follow-up InspectionThese visits are mainly to check that the employer complies with the improvement notice issued to him/her during the previous visit.


  • Special Inspection These visits focus on specific problems or issues. A special inspection visit will be made to investigate complaint by workers/employers, to focus on a particular problem or to investigate an accident. Such visits are usually unannounced.


b) Labour Relations Division

  • Educating and informing workers, employers, relevant government officials, and wider society of the nature and purpose of a labor relations system in a mixed economy.


  • Advising and training workers and employers at enterprise level on labor relations processes.


  • Training workers and employers at enterprise level on interaction skills including communication, consultation and negotiation.


  • Resolving disputes through information and advice, conciliation and mediation.


  • Supporting, technically and administratively, the operation of the arbitration dispute settlement machinery.


  • Promote workspace harmony and co-operation through enforcement and compliance of the laws,


  • Investigate the nature and causes of labour disputes and assist the disputing parties to resolve disputes amicably,


  • Submit charge sheet to a court of law,


  • Represent the Ministry in a court of law.


c) Foreign Workers Division

  • Review application for foreign workers and accord approval to recruit and employ foreign workers in line with the government policies, norms and rules and regulations,


  • Monitor proper utilization of foreign workers by employers,


  • Ensure that foreign workers are not exploited and receive equal treatment under the labour law


  • Ensure that both employers and foreign workers abide by the provisions of the Labour and Employment Act, 2007 and its Regulations,


  • Monitor the performance of Foreign Workers Recruitment Agents and strengthen them through supervision, inspection and training and re-organization from time to time


  • Liaise with Department of Immigration on issues related to management of foreign workers,


  • Ensure that the Labour Net functions smoothly 24 hours a day and 7 days a week,


d) Social Protection Division

  • Study and research on social protection issues in the country and propose recommendations to the government for decision,


  • Review the existing provident fund and gratuity schemes and see how, if at all, they can be integrated into a wider pension scheme,


  • Draw up a comprehensive administrative and operational framework for social protection including arrangements for decentralized services,


  • Plan and implement public awareness campaigns on social protection targeted to employees in the corporate and the private sectors,


  • Implement social protection schemes such as minimum wages, gratuity, provident fund, pensions, unemployment insurance, severance benefits, etc.


e) Regional Offices

The Regional Employment and Labour Offices in

  •  Phuentsholing covering Chukha and Samtse Dzongkhags,


  • Gelephu covering Sarpang, Tsirang, Dagana, Trongsa, Zhemgang and Bumthang Dzongkhags


  • Samdrupjongklhar covering Samdrup Jongkhar and Pema Gatshel Dzongkhags


  • Trashigang covering Trashigang, Trashi Yangtse, Mongar and Lhuentse Dzongkhags, are the arms of the Ministry to reach its services closer to the public.


  • Thimphu, Paro, Haa, Punakha, Wangdi Phodrang and Gasa are presently covered by Headquarters. The Department proposes to establish RELO, Thimphu or Paro in the 11th Plan to cover these Dzongkhags and the Hqrs. will concentrate on policies, planning and supervision.


  •  A field office in Lobesa/Bajothang is being set up exclusively for the Punatshangchu Hydropower Projects I & II.


Highlight

1. Labour Net

The concept of Labour Net and Job Portal was put forward by the then National Employment Board in 2000. The Job Portal for online registration of job seekers and vacancies and automatic matching of jobs seekers against vacancies (not activated) was operationalized in 2001 by the Department of Employment and Labour (NEB renamed). The Labour Net was developed in 2003 – 2005 and operationalized in 2006 as the first web based interactive e-governance system in the country with the main objective of taking public services closer to the people and also to compel employers to make use of the ICT. The work permits processes which were managed by around 6-7 officers and staff when done manually are now managed by two officers. The Labour Net has been extensively quoted by the Department of Information Technology as one of the well functioning e-governance tools and by the Anti Corruption Commission as a corruption mitigation tool.


2. Labour Inspection and Reporting System (Online)

This system developed over the last two years and operationlized in July, 2010 is designed to take public services closer and speedily to the people using ICT.

The main functions of this system are to enable:

    • The labour inspectors to: Submit inspection reports to the Chief Labour Administrator online for his required immediate decision on further action to be taken by the inspectors while they are still at the inspection sites.Issue improvement notices, prohibition notices and penalty memos to the inspectees online.
      • The enterprises and employees:To register themselves,File complaints and accident reports online.

 

    •  Manage other aspects of labour administration online

Issues

1. Technical Capacity of the Department of Labour and Labour Officers to enforce Occupational Health and Safety

The Department of Labour being staffed with general graduates, lack the capacity to enforce occupational health and safety which is very technical in nature. In fact, the whole country seems to lack the expertise in OHS. There is need to urgently build the capacity of the Department and its officers for effective enforcement of OHS at work places as mandated by the government and the labour law. Such expertise are available in UN specialized agencies such as ILO. Unfortunately, ILO’s services are available only to its Members States. It is therefore, proposed that the government consider joining the ILO as a Member State.


2. Application of the Provisions of the Labour Law Uniformly Throughout the Country

While the Labour and Employment Act, 2007 applies to the whole of the country, application of its provisions uniformly throughout the country is the greatest challenge the Department is faced with. The recent decision of the Ministry to reinforce the work permit system as required by law, in the bilateral agencies and border towns has met with resistance from all quarters. Further, lack of awareness and their ability to understand the provisions of the law by most of the stakeholders leading to poor compliance, is yet another challenge the Department is faced with. Unconditional support of all authorities is essential if the Department is to fulfill its mandates as enshrined in the labour law.


3. Shortage of Resources

This constraint may be faced by all agencies in the government. However, the Department of Labour being fairly new (established in 2003) with couple of officers is faced with acute shortage of qualified officers and other resources. Only one division chief out of four approved exists as of now. Further, almost all the officers of the Department, except for the head of the Department and the sole division chief, are fresh graduates who need extensive training in labour administration for which there is no resource. Training in labour administration is not easily available except in International Training Centre of ILO which again is available only to the Members States or on full fee payment basis to non-member countries for which the Department has no resource. It may therefore, be not out of context for the government to resolve the human resources shortage of a new Department such as the Department of Labour.