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Employee Rights and Protections

Explore workers' rights and legal protections in Bhutan


In Bhutan, employment laws are primarily governed by the Labor and Employment Act of Bhutan 2007. This act, along with subsequent regulations, establishes the framework for how and when employment may be terminated.

Lawful Grounds for Dismissal

An employer in Bhutan may dismiss an employee on the following grounds:

  • Misconduct: This includes serious breaches of employment contract terms, gross insubordination, repeated instances of negligence, theft, fraud, or other actions that significantly undermine the employment relationship.
  • Incapacity: If an employee is unable to perform their duties due to prolonged illness, injury, or disability that renders them incapable of fulfilling job requirements. The employer must demonstrate reasonable efforts to accommodate the employee before termination.
  • Redundancy: If an employee's position becomes unnecessary due to economic circumstances, restructuring, or technological changes.

Notice Requirements

The required notice period for termination in Bhutan depends on the circumstances and the employee's length of service.

  • Probationary Period: During an employee's probationary period (typically six months), either party can terminate the employment with seven days' notice.
  • Regular Employment: For employees who have completed their probationary period:
    • Employer Termination: At least one month's notice is required. However, lecturers and teachers require three months' notice.
    • Employee Resignation: One month's notice must be given by the employee.

Failure to provide proper notice: If either party fails to provide the required notice, they must pay the other party an amount equivalent to the basic pay for the notice period.

Severance Pay

Severance pay in Bhutan is not mandatory in all cases of termination. However, under certain circumstances, it may apply:

  • Termination Due to Redundancy: The employer may need to provide severance pay depending on the circumstances and the employee's length of service.
  • Payment in Lieu of Notice: If either party fails to serve the required notice period, compensation equivalent to the basic pay for the notice period must be paid.


Bhutan has a robust legal framework that promotes equality and prohibits discrimination. This protection primarily stems from the country's constitution and labor laws.

Protected Characteristics

The Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan (2008) explicitly prohibits discrimination under Article 7(15) on the following grounds:

  • Race
  • Sex
  • Language
  • Religion
  • Politics
  • Other status (interpreted broadly to include additional social categories)

Redress Mechanisms

Individuals who experience discrimination in Bhutan have several options for seeking redress:

  • Internal Grievance Procedures: Many workplaces have internal grievance mechanisms for addressing discrimination complaints. Employees are encouraged to use these procedures initially.
  • National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC): The NCWC is a statutory body mandated to protect and promote the rights of women and children. They can investigate discrimination complaints and provide mediation services.
  • Labor Tribunals: Employment-related discrimination disputes can be brought before Labor Tribunals for resolution.
  • Judicial System: Individuals can file cases in the courts to seek legal remedies for discrimination, including compensation or reinstatement.

Employer Responsibilities

Employers in Bhutan have a proactive responsibility to prevent discrimination and create inclusive workplaces. Key obligations include:

  • Non-discrimination Policy: Develop and implement a clear policy prohibiting discrimination in all aspects of employment.
  • Awareness and Training: Conduct regular training for employees on anti-discrimination laws, recognizing discrimination, and fostering a respectful workplace.
  • Complaint Handling: Establish a transparent and accessible mechanism for employees to report discrimination concerns without fear of retaliation. Investigate complaints promptly and take corrective action when necessary.

Working conditions

Bhutan is committed to ensuring fair and safe working conditions for its workforce, as outlined in the Labor and Employment Act of Bhutan 2007 and its subsequent revisions, such as the Regulation on Working Conditions (2022).

Work Hours

In Bhutan, a standard workweek consists of eight hours per day and 40 hours per week. Overtime work is allowed, but employers are required to compensate employees for hours worked beyond the regular schedule. The minimum overtime rate is typically 1.5 times the standard salary rate. However, specific regulations might apply for late-night work (10 PM to 8 AM), where the rate may be higher.

Rest Periods

Employees are entitled to a minimum of one-hour break during an eight-hour workday. Furthermore, all employees must be provided with at least one full day of rest per week, which typically falls on a Sunday.

Ergonomic Requirements

While Bhutan's labor laws do not explicitly define ergonomic standards, they emphasize the importance of workplace safety. Employers have a general duty to provide a safe working environment for their employees, which likely includes minimizing ergonomic risks associated with workstation design, repetitive tasks, or heavy lifting.

Additional Considerations

Bhutanese employees are entitled to various types of paid leave, including sick leave, annual leave, maternity leave, and others. The Department of Labour within the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources (MoLHR) is responsible for ensuring workplace safety standards and may issue specific guidelines or regulations related to ergonomics in the future.

Health and safety

Bhutan has a strong focus on worker well-being, with health and safety standards in workplaces mandated under the Labour and Employment Act of Bhutan 2007. These regulations are enforced by the Department of Labour within the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources (MoLHR).

Employer Obligations

In Bhutan, the legal framework places significant responsibility on employers to ensure a safe and healthy work environment. Key employer obligations include:

  • Risk Assessment and Mitigation: Employers are required to conduct risk assessments to identify potential hazards in the workplace and implement control measures to minimize those risks. This might involve using personal protective equipment (PPE), establishing safe work procedures, and providing proper training.
  • Safe Work Environment: Employers are obligated to provide and maintain a workplace that is free from safety hazards and health risks. This includes ensuring proper ventilation, lighting, sanitation, and hygiene facilities.
  • Accident Reporting and Investigation: Employers must have a system for reporting and investigating work-related accidents and illnesses. This information is crucial for identifying trends and implementing preventive measures.
  • Employee Training: Employers are responsible for providing safety training to employees on safe work practices, hazard identification, and emergency procedures.

Employee Rights

Employees in Bhutan have fundamental rights regarding workplace health and safety:

  • Right to a Safe Workplace: Employees have the right to work in an environment free from foreseeable risks to their safety and health.
  • Refusal of Unsafe Work: Employees have the right to refuse work that they reasonably believe is unsafe.
  • Right to Information and Training: Employees have the right to receive information and training on workplace hazards, safety procedures, and their rights under health and safety regulations.

Enforcement Agencies

The Department of Labour within the MoLHR is the primary agency responsible for enforcing health and safety regulations in Bhutan. Their functions include:

  • Conducting workplace inspections to ensure compliance with health and safety standards.
  • Investigating work-related accidents and illnesses.
  • Issuing directives to employers for rectifying safety violations.
  • Raising awareness about workplace health and safety through workshops and campaigns.
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