Kin of migrants who died in Nepal to get compensation

- ROSHAN SEDHAI, Kathmandu

Mar 9, 2016-

The Foreign Employment Promotion Board (FEPB) has decided to provide compensation to families of migrants who died in Nepal while they were on annual work leave.  

More than 28 families of migrant workers who died in Nepal while on company’s annual vacation had long been struggling to receive compensation from the Migrant Workers’ Welfare Fund (MWWF) due to legal ambiguities. The applications were received over the period of last two years.  

The decision by a FEPB meeting chaired by Minister of Labour and Employment has also set precedent for families of migrants dying under similar circumstances to seek financial reimbursement in the future. 

The board decided to provide the compensation as the deceased were technically on the job at the time of their demise, according to FEPB officials. “The board members decided at their own discretion as the Foreign Employment Act was silent on such cases. It has set a precedent for future cases with similar complexities,” said an FEPB official. The FEPB said the actual number of migrants dying under such circumstances might be more than what has been reported to the board.  

As per the decision, the families of deceased migrants will each receive Rs300,000 from the MWWF. The fund is set up by the government wherein each outbound migrant deposits Rs1,000. 

Family members of concerned workers have welcomed the decision. They have also sought appropriate changes in the policy to simplify the process for other bereaved families to seek the compensation.  

“We are happy with the decision, but the act needs some changes to clear legal hurdles. The law should clearly specify that registered migrants should be entitled to compensation if they die during the work tenure irrespective of the place of death,” said Bishnu Prasad Dahal, an applicant. 

Dahal’s wife Shova, who was working as a cleaner at Al-Mukhtar Cleaning Service in the Qatari capital Doha, had died while she was in Nepal on annual leave. 

The meeting has also decided to provide Rs50,000 to distant relatives if the deceased had no immediate relative defined by the laws. The Foreign Employment Act states that only people of immediate relation--parents, spouse or children--are entitled to such compensation. 

Government officials said that there would be categorical changes in the Foreign Employment Act and other related laws to address such legal complications in the future. 

Similarly, the FEPB has also unveiled a 100-day welfare programme targeting migrants and their families. The autonomous body under the Ministry of Labour and Employment has been under-fire for not doing enough for migrants’ welfare despite amassing billions from the migrants. 

The board had collected around Rs3.3 billion from outbound migrants until the end of fiscal year 2014/15.

Published: 09-03-2016 08:24

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