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Working Hours and Overtime Regulations

Understand the laws governing work hours and overtime in Bhutan

Standard working hours

Bhutan's labor framework establishes a clear standard for working hours, aiming to balance productivity with employee well-being. The Labour Act of Bhutan 2007 outlines the key regulations:

The Act defines a standard working week as 48 hours, spread over six days. This translates to an eight-hour workday, Monday through Saturday. This is the maximum limit for standard working hours. Employers cannot require employees to work more than 48 hours per week.

The regulations specify a maximum of eight hours of work per day. This ensures a predictable schedule and prevents employers from extending workdays beyond reasonable limits.

While the Act establishes a standard, some flexibility might exist within individual employment contracts. However, such variations cannot exceed the legal maximum of 48 hours per week.

Certain sectors with inherently different work patterns, like hospitality or security, might have negotiated alternative working hour arrangements through collective bargaining agreements. However, these agreements must still comply with the standard limit.


Bhutan's Labour Act of Bhutan 2007, along with the Regulation on Working Conditions, 2022, provides the guidelines for overtime work and its compensation.

Overtime is applicable when work is performed beyond the standard 48 hours per week. This includes situations where employees work more than eight hours per day or on rest days. The Regulations do not specify a minimum number of daily overtime hours to trigger overtime pay. However, it is stated that employers cannot compel employees to work more than 12 hours per day, including overtime hours. This rule is in place to protect employee well-being and prevent excessive working hours.

The Regulations mandate overtime compensation at a rate of at least double the normal hourly wage. This means employees must be paid twice their regular hourly rate for each hour worked overtime.

Working on rest days attracts a higher overtime pay rate. In addition to the double hourly wage for regular overtime, employees must be compensated with an additional premium pay of at least one day's basic wage.

For example, if an employee's regular hourly wage is Nu. 100 (Bhutanese Ngultrum), and they work 2 hours of overtime on a weekday, they would earn Nu. 100 (regular wage) x 2 (overtime rate) = Nu. 200 for those hours. If they work 4 hours on a Sunday, they would earn Nu. 100 (regular wage) x 2 (overtime rate) x 4 (hours worked) = Nu. 800, plus an additional day's basic wage as Sunday premium.

Employers are required to maintain clear records of employee overtime hours worked. These records are crucial for ensuring accurate overtime pay calculations and compliance with labor regulations.

Rest periods and breaks

Bhutan's Labour Act of Bhutan 2007, along with the Regulation on Working Conditions, 2022, sets forth provisions for rest periods and breaks for workers. Here's a summary of these rights:

Mandatory Rest Day (Weekly Break)

The Regulations ensure all employees receive at least one full rest day per week, typically on Sundays. This mandatory break is designed to provide ample time for recovery and to prevent burnout.

Meal Breaks

Although the Regulations do not explicitly mandate specific meal break durations, they do recognize the need for reasonable breaks during prolonged work periods. This suggests that employers should allow employees to take meal breaks throughout the workday, especially for those working eight-hour shifts.

Industry Practices and Breaks:

  • Many workplaces in Bhutan typically incorporate meal breaks of 30 minutes to one hour into daily work schedules.
  • The specific duration and timing of meal breaks may be determined by individual employment contracts or workplace policies.

Rest Breaks During Extended Workdays

The Regulations limit daily working hours to a maximum of 12 hours. This indirectly suggests short rest breaks during extended workdays to prevent fatigue and ensure employee well-being.

Employer Responsibilities:

While the Regulations do not prescribe a set duration or frequency for these breaks, employers have a general duty to create a safe and healthy work environment. This includes providing reasonable opportunities for short rest breaks throughout long workdays.

Importance of Communication:

Open communication between employers and employees is crucial. Employees should feel comfortable discussing break needs with their employers, and employers should strive to establish reasonable break schedules within the workday framework.

Night shift and weekend regulations

In Bhutan, labor laws do not directly regulate night shifts or weekend work. However, the Labour Act of Bhutan 2007 and the Regulation on Working Conditions, 2022 indirectly impact these work arrangements.

The regulations define a standard working week as 48 hours, spread over six days. Night shifts can be implemented as long as total weekly working hours don't exceed 48. However, night shift work exceeding this limit falls under overtime regulations. Overtime work attracts double the regular hourly wage. This applies to night shift hours that push total weekly hours beyond 48.

While the regulations guarantee one mandatory rest day per week, they don't explicitly prohibit weekend work. Employers can require night shifts on weekends, but such work triggers higher overtime pay. Working on rest days attracts a premium pay in addition to the double overtime rate. This incentivizes fair compensation for working on weekends, including night shifts.

The absence of specific night shift regulations suggests a degree of flexibility in scheduling night work. However, employers must adhere to overtime and rest day premium pay requirements if total working hours surpass the standard limit.

In the absence of specific night shift regulations, some workplaces might have their own internal policies regarding night shift work schedules. Employees should familiarize themselves with such policies. Night shift work can disrupt sleep patterns and potentially impact health. Employers should prioritize a healthy work environment for night shifts, considering factors like adequate lighting, workstation ergonomics, and potentially consulting health and safety guidelines.

In conclusion, Bhutan's labor framework doesn't have dedicated night shift regulations, but existing rules on overtime pay, and weekend premiums indirectly influence night and weekend work practices. Employers have flexibility in scheduling night shifts, but they must ensure adherence to overtime compensation and prioritize employee well-being during these work arrangements.

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