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Fake overseas employment agents still abound

Despite the labour ministry’s announcements asking jobseekers to be vigilant of fake and unauthorised operators advertising fake overseas job vacancies, many Bhutanese has become victims.

The ministry issued a notification on their website, advising job seekers to only apply for jobs advertised by the ministry or licensed overseas agents listed on the website to avoid getting duped since those overseas vacancies posted online are illegal.

There are six authorised registered with the ministry. Five agents, who were initially licensed, are now terminated.

However, there are increasing complaints on social media forums on fake agents offering employment overseas with attractive salaries and free accommodation in countries like India, UAE and the United States of America.

The ministry also receives complaints from people who claim to be duped by fake agents and not being able to trace the agent.

An official from the Department of Employment and Human Resources said there are also risks of people being trafficked through the fake agents.

“Job seekers come to the ministry to complain that they realised they were duped only after reaching the destination,” he said. 

According to the official, most people come to complain only after they make the advance payments and the agents refuse to contact them. “They do not know who the agent is and where it is based,” she said. “Most of the complainants travel from dzongkhags and villages and do not bother to verify with the ministry.”

Most complainants refuse to complain in writing and many do not return to follow up on the complaint. Most of the fake agents, who advertise the vacancies, have fake numbers and addresses.

In a few cases, the ministry managed to trace fake agents. The cases are dealt by the legal division. Article 211 of Chapter XIII of the Labour and Employment Act of Bhutan 2007 states, “A person shall not act as an employment agent unless the person is licensed.”

There are also cases where the ministry traces the information on job seekers leaving through unregistered agents.

“Although the job seekers are placed and are working, the placement itself is illegal and this is illegal recruitment,” an official said. “When we see overseas vacancies, we call up but the number is either switched off or they don’t respond.”

The official, however, said that some jobseekers have now started to verify job vacancies with the ministry. “We urge jobseekers to do more research and study carefully before signing any contract.”

The licensed overseas employment agents have to follow procedures laid out in the regulation on Bhutanese Overseas Employment Agent 2013. The agents must seek approval from the ministry right from announcing overseas vacancies to the final placement.

Today, there are 7,062 Bhutanese youth working overseas as of July 2019.

Yangchen C Rinzin  

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