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Remote and Flexible Work Options

Learn about remote work policies and flexible work arrangements in Bhutan

Remote work

Bhutan, a country known for its beautiful mountain scenery and emphasis on Gross National Happiness, is gradually adapting to the concept of remote work. However, the legal and regulatory framework for remote work is still in its developmental stages. This guide will delve into the current state of remote work in Bhutan, providing insights for employers and employees venturing into this new territory.

Bhutan currently does not have specific legislation governing remote work. The existing labor laws, which are primarily outlined in the Labor Act of Bhutan 2007, focus mainly on traditional office-based work structures.

In the absence of dedicated remote work regulations, it is crucial to have clear and comprehensive written agreements between employers and potential remote workers. These agreements should cover aspects such as work hours, communication protocols, performance evaluation methods, and potential legal considerations due to the evolving landscape.

Technological Infrastructure Requirements

For successful remote work, a robust technological infrastructure is essential:

  • Reliable Internet Connectivity: High-speed and stable internet is critical for seamless communication, data transfer, and video conferencing. The availability and quality of internet can vary in Bhutan, making this a crucial factor for both employers and employees to consider.
  • Secure Communication Tools: Employers should prioritize secure video conferencing platforms and encrypted messaging services for confidential communication.
  • Cloud-Based Solutions: Cloud storage and project management tools can facilitate collaboration and document sharing between geographically dispersed teams.
  • Cybersecurity Measures: Implementing cybersecurity protocols like firewalls, data encryption, and employee training on cyber hygiene is vital to protect sensitive company information.

Employer Responsibilities

Even though there are no legal mandates regarding remote work, employers considering this approach should fulfill specific responsibilities:

  • Policy Development: It is essential to create a formal remote work policy outlining expectations, communication protocols, data security practices, and performance evaluation methods.
  • Equipment and Resources: There are no legal requirements for employers to provide equipment or reimburse expenses for remote work setups. However, employers may choose to do so to enhance productivity and working conditions.
  • Training and Support: Providing training on remote work tools, data security practices, and effective communication techniques can be beneficial, especially for employees new to remote work arrangements.
  • Communication and Collaboration: Maintaining regular communication and fostering a sense of team spirit is essential for remote teams. Employers should schedule virtual meetings, utilize collaboration tools effectively, and promote open communication channels.

Additional Considerations

  • Taxes: Employers should be aware of potential tax implications for remote workers residing outside Bhutan. Work permit requirements for foreign remote workers might also apply.
  • Work Permits: For foreign workers considering remote work in Bhutan, obtaining the appropriate work permits might be necessary.

Flexible work arrangements

In Bhutan, the labor market is traditionally office-based, but there's a growing interest in flexible work options. While no specific regulations govern these arrangements, aspects of existing labor laws can be applied.

Part-Time Work

The Labor Act of Bhutan 2007 doesn't explicitly mention part-time work. However, employers can offer part-time positions with working hours less than the standard workweek. There are no legal mandates regarding minimum wage or benefits for part-time workers. It's crucial to establish clear written agreements outlining work hours, compensation, and benefit eligibility (if offered).


Flexitime allows employees some flexibility in their working hours within a designated core working period. There are no specific legal regulations governing flexitime in Bhutan. However, employers can establish internal policies outlining its implementation. These policies should ensure total working hours comply with the agreed-upon schedule and adhere to minimum wage requirements (if applicable to part-time flexitime arrangements).

Job Sharing

Job sharing allows two or more employees to share the responsibilities of a single full-time position. The Labor Act doesn't explicitly address job sharing. However, employers can draft clear contracts outlining responsibilities, compensation, and working hours for each job sharer, adhering to general employment regulations.

Equipment and Expense Reimbursements

Bhutan's labor laws don't mandate employers to provide equipment or reimburse expenses for any flexible work arrangements. However, employers may choose to provide or reimburse employees for essential equipment or offer partial reimbursements for internet connectivity expenses. It's important for employers to clearly outline any equipment and expense reimbursement policies within their flexible work arrangement agreements. This transparency avoids potential disputes.

Data protection and privacy

The rise of remote work in Bhutan has brought data protection and privacy to the forefront. As employees move away from traditional office environments, it's crucial for employers to ensure data security while respecting employee privacy rights. This text will delve into employer obligations, employee rights, and best practices for securing personal and company data in this evolving work landscape.

Bhutan's legal framework regarding data protection is still under development. Currently, there's no overarching data protection law. However, the Constitution of Bhutan provides a foundation by guaranteeing the right to privacy (Article 7).

General Data Protection Principles

In the absence of a specific data protection law, some general principles can be inferred from existing legal frameworks:

  • Right to Privacy: Employees have a right to expect their personal data to be kept confidential by their employer, based on the Constitution's right to privacy.
  • Duty of Care: Employers have a general duty to take reasonable steps to protect confidential information entrusted to them, which can extend to employee data. This is based on Section 120 of the Civil Liability Act of Bhutan 2007.

These principles, while not specific to data protection, can serve as a foundation for employers venturing into remote work arrangements.

Employer Obligations

While there are no legally mandated data protection practices for remote work yet, employers have a responsibility to protect confidential information. This translates to specific obligations in a remote work setting:

  • Security Measures: Employers should implement appropriate technical and organizational safeguards to protect personal data from unauthorized access, disclosure, alteration, or destruction. This may involve password protocols, access controls, and data encryption.
  • Data Minimization: Employers should collect and retain only the employee data essential for legitimate business purposes.
  • Employee Training: Employers should train remote workers on data protection principles and best practices for handling sensitive information.

Employee Rights

While there are no statutory data protection rights in Bhutan, the general right to privacy suggests certain employee rights:

  • Right to Confidentiality: Employees have a right to expect their personal data to be kept confidential by their employer.
  • Right to Access (Potential): The right to access personal data is not explicitly established by law, but it can be argued based on the general right to privacy.

Best Practices for Data Security

Here are some best practices for employers to ensure data security for remote workers:

  • Secure Communication Tools: Employers should utilize encrypted messaging platforms and video conferencing solutions for confidential communication.
  • Access Controls: Employers should implement access controls to restrict access to sensitive data only to authorized personnel.
  • Data Encryption: Employers should encrypt sensitive data at rest and in transit to minimize the risk of unauthorized access.
  • Password Management: Employers should enforce strong password policies and encourage regular password changes.
  • Remote Access Protocols: Employers should establish secure remote access protocols that authenticate users and encrypt data transmissions.
  • Data Loss Prevention (DLP): Employers should implement DLP tools to prevent accidental or intentional data leaks.
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