Contract employees to be offered new “Para-Regular” status in Bhutan



In a move aimed at addressing longstanding concerns about job security and benefits, the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) has proposed a new employment category for contract employees: “para-regular” civil servants.

This announcement follows through on a key campaign promise of the current government, which pledged to regularize contract employees. With over 5,000 contract employees in the country compared to a regular civil service force, the disparity in benefits and job security has become a pressing issue.

PM Tshering Tobgay, during a recent meet-the-press session, acknowledged the need to balance the interests of both contract and regular civil servants.

As per the RCSC, PM said “Our civil service continues to function on the principle of meritocracy, and it should remain the priority for our services.” Therefore, changes in the benefits and prime contract staff should not negatively impact the recruitment and the potential of the regular civil servants.

The RCSC suggests creating a new employment category called “para-regular” with fixed-term contracts. This category would combine existing regular and consolidated contract employees under one system with service agreements outlining their employment terms.

Further, the RCSC suggested merging the existing consolidated and regular contract categories into a single para-regular category.

The RCSC proposal for para-regular employees offers a more attractive benefits package but with a condition. Instead of the previously suggested five percent increase, para-regular employees would receive full provident fund benefits, putting them on par with regular civil servants. However, this enhanced benefit comes at the cost of their current 30 percent contract allowance. The RCSC is proposing a trade-off: a more secure retirement plan in exchange for a reduction in their current salary.

The RCSC also highlighted complete changes in the environment in administrative challenges of the RCSC segregate interpreting the change.

While the prospect of improved benefits and job security is pleasant to hear for contract employees like Nim Dem, a recent recruit at Denchukha Lower Secondary School, concerns remain. “The discontinuation of the quarter allowance of 30 percent would be quite disadvantageous,” Nim Dem shared. “It could impact financial stability and job satisfaction, but as I said earlier, there are many more positive impacts on the way.”

Bikram Gurung, another contract teacher at Haa Primary School, shared similar views. He highlighted the challenges faced by contract employees in obtaining loans and other financial support due to their employment status. “It would demotivate the contract teachers,” he said. “It would be better if all the contract teachers were given a chance to be regularized after assessing and evaluating them.”

Kencho Dema, a contract teacher since July last year, sees the para-regular status as a step in the right direction. “For me, the approval of para-regular status will bring several benefits,” she explained. “Firstly, it will provide greater job security, and secondly, it will likely include access to benefits like health insurance, paid leave, and possibly retirement contributions.”

The RCSC acknowledges the potential administrative challenges associated with implementing these changes. However, the proposed system aims to strike a balance and address the needs of contract employees while upholding the integrity of the existing civil service system based on merit.

While some regular civil servants have expressed concerns about fairness, given the rigorous Bhutan Civil Service Examination (BCSE) they had to take, the RCSC’s proposal seems to be a well-considered step towards a more equitable and stable civil service structure in Bhutan. Moving forward, ongoing dialogue between the RCSC, contract employees, and regular civil servants will be crucial to ensuring a smooth transition and addressing any outstanding concerns.

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