Practice Area Articles
January 16, 2023
Pimvimol (June) Vipamaneerut and Ketnut Pukahuta
Back to International Employment Law
KEY DEVELOPMENTS FOR 2023
Personal data of workers
Thailand’s Personal Data Protection Committee ("PDPC") has released separate guidelines for data controllers to follow in obtaining data subjects’ consent and notifying data subjects of required information (i.e., regarding collection, use, or disclosure of their personal data).
Although the PDPC guidelines do not have a legal binding effects, employers, as data controllers, may rely on the PDPC guidelines in obtaining data subjects’ consent and notifying data subjects of required information (i.e., regarding collection, use, or disclosure of their personal data). This is relevant to both internal subjects (e.g., employees, etc.) and external subjects (e.g., customers, suppliers, etc.).
By following the guidelines, data controllers can mitigate the risk of violating the Personal Data Protection Act B.E. 2562 (2019) (PDPA).
Thailand has issued the Ministerial Regulation Prescribing the Rate of Contributions to the Social Security Fund B.E. 2565 (2022).
This ministerial regulation requires government, employers, and insurers to contribute to the Social Security Fund according to set contribution rates laid out in the regulation and its attached lists—one covering the period from 1 October 2022 to 31 December 2022, and the other covering the period from 1 January 2023 onward.
Employers must ensure that their contributions to the Social Security Fund in 2022 and 2023 are in accordance with this ministerial regulation.
Effective 1 October 2022, the minimum wage was increased to THB 328–354 per day (USD 9.01–9.72) This was an increase of approximately 5% from the previous range of THB 313–336 per day. The minimum wage varies depending on the province.
Employers must ensure that their employees’ wages are in accordance with the new minimum wage in the relevant province(s), and adjust wages as necessary.
KEY DEVELOPMENTS FOR 2022
Enforcement of the Thai Personal Data Protection Act
The Thai Personal Data Protection Act B.E. 2562 (2019) (“PDPA”) came into force on 1 June 2022. As of 1 June 2022, employers have to ensure that they collect data from all data subjects, including employees, in a manner that is compliant with the PDPA.
Employers should revisit and review their data collection and data processing methods and processes to ensure that they will be compliant with the PDPA once it comes into effect. Additionally, further subordinate legislation issued under the PDPA is to be expected, so employers should continue to monitor developments in this area of law.
New minimum wage rates
New minimum wage rates may be introduced in Q4 of 2022. Once the new minimum wage rate comes into force, employers will be required to pay a wage to the employees at a rate which is no less than the amount required by law.
Thai Cabinet approves draft National Pension Fund Act
The Thai Cabinet has approved in principle a draft National Pension Fund Act. Once the National Pension Fund Act comes into force, both employers and employees will be required to make a monthly contribution to the fund at a rate which is no less than the amount required by law. Employers should continue to monitor the development of this law.
KEY DEVELOPMENTS FOR 2021
Easing of entry restrictions on foreign workers during the COVID‑19 outbreak
The Ministry of Interior (MOI) issued a notification (Notification regarding Exceptions to Restrictions for Foreign Workers from certain Nations to Enter and Stay in Thailand Specifically for Work, according to the Memorandum of Understanding on Labour Cooperation in Relation to the Circumstances Caused by the COVID‑19 Pandemic) dated November 18, 2020, lifting some restrictions for foreign workers from Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar on 1 November 2020. The foreign workers are now allowed to enter Thailand for work, provided they fall under the definition of a "foreigner" as cited in this notification. A "foreigner" is a foreign worker with Cambodian, Lao or Myanmar nationality, who is permitted to work in Thailand for a period of four years, under the Memorandum of Understanding on Labour Cooperation dated 1 March 2006, and their passports are still valid. Furthermore, qualified foreign workers who completed a four‑year employment contract between November 1, 2020, and December 31, 2021, will be allowed to stay in Thailand for another two years. However, they will be required to submit a request to work with the Department of Employment after completing their first year of employment in order to stay in Thailand for another year.
Personal Data Protection Act came into effect on 1 June 2021
The enforcement of some sections of the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), which was enacted in 2019 and had been scheduled to take effect in May 2020, will now only become fully effective on 1 June 2022. The PDPA will bring significant changes to the current data protection regulatory environment in Thailand and all companies that collect, use, or disclose ("process") personal data of data subjects (e.g., candidates, employees, customers or suppliers) should be prepared for its enforcement.
KEY DEVELOPMENTS FOR 2020
Updates to the Labour Protection Act
Amendments to the Labour Protection Act ("LPA") recently came into effect, to introduce and expand a number of employee benefits and protections. The key amendments include: (i) employees with at least 20 years' service are now entitled to severance pay equal to 400 days of their most recent pay rate; (ii) the period of maternity leave has been increased from 90 days to 98 days (inclusive of holidays), with employers now required to pay a minimum of 45 days' worth of the employee's most recent pay rate; (iii) employers must grant employees a minimum of three days of paid 'necessary business leave' per year; (iv) if an employer relocates an employee's current workplace to a new establishment, the employer must post an announcement at the current workplace (stating which employees will be relocated and the scheduled date of relocation) for at least 30 days in advance of the relocation; (v) employers must not transfer employees from one employer to another without obtaining consent from the employees who will be transferred; and (vi) male and female employees who are undertaking the same work must be paid equally. Several penalties for employers who fail to comply with any provisions in the LPA have also been amended to extend them to cover the new amendments.
Increase to Minimum Wage
The National Wage Committee of Thailand's Ministry of Labour announced a new minimum daily wage which came into effect from 1 January 2020. The new minimum wage varies by province on a sliding scale ranging from THB 313 to THB 336 (approximately USD 10.35 to 11.10) per day. This amounts to an increase of THB 6 for workers in nine provinces, and by THB 5 for workers in all other provinces.
Social Security relief measures
The Thai Government has recently introduced social security relief measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. From 1 March 2020 to 28 February 2022, insured employees under the Social Security Act are entitled to receive benefits during periods of unemployment caused by the economic crisis as follows:
- If an employee's employment is terminated by an employer during this period, the Social Security Office will compensate the former employee at the rate of 70% of their daily wages for up to 200 days; and
- If an eligible employee resigns, or their fixed-term employment contract expires and is not renewed, the employee can receive compensation at the rate of 45% of their daily wages for up to 90 days.
These regulations do not grant employers broad discretion to cease operations without paying employees' wages and employers should note that they are still required to meet all of their obligations regarding termination, compensation and severance pay.
KEY DEVELOPMENTS FOR 2019
Reforms to the Labour Protection Act
Substantial labor reforms will be made in 2019 under the Labor Protection Act. Virtually all employers are expected to be affected by the reforms. It should be noted that the draft amendments have merely been considered by the National Legislative Assembly of Thailand. The final version of the amendments that will be enacted in 2019 may differ slightly.
Gender equality in the workforce
An on-going global push for gender equality in the workforce has made significant headway in Thailand and this is expected to continue with reforms that are under consideration. One of the suggested reforms requires employers to state wages, overtime payments, payments for working on holidays, and payments for working overtime on holidays at the same rate for male and female employees at positions of equal level.
Another proposed amendment will require employers to pay wages to pregnant employees, who must take leave for prenatal exams prior to delivery. Successful implementation of these amendments will further propel gender equality in Thailand’s workforce and place the country at the forefront of initiating just labor laws.
Ensuring safe working conditions
Monitoring and, in turn, guaranteeing that working conditions for employers are up to standard and safe is in the best interests of the government, employers, and employees in Thailand. One amendment currently under consideration for enactment in 2019 would assist the government with standardizing and controlling working conditions around the country. The proposed revision would require companies to submit a report on the conditions of employment and the working conditions at the place of employment to a competent authority. Companies that fail to comply with this request will be subject to penalties.
KEY DEVELOPMENTS FOR 2018
Crackdown on Unlawful Foreign Employment, Increased Penalties for Employers, Licensees and Workers
Under a new royal decree, the legal definition of “work” has been expanded and employers’ duties to notify the government of employment changes have increased.
In addition, penalties for certain offences by employees and employers, including those licensed to recruit foreigners, have been increased—some by up to 400%—effective January 1, 2018.
New Labour Protection Act B.E. 2560 (2017)
Substantial labor reforms were made in 2017 under a new incarnation of the Labor Protection Act. The reforms include, inter alia:
- new provisions treating retirement as termination for the purposes of severance pay;
- removing the requirement to submit new or amended work rules to the relevant government authorities; and,
- increasing the scope of power for the Ministry of Labor’s Wage Committee, allowing it to set minimum wage rates for specific groups of people (rather than just for specific categories of work or working locations).
Work Permit and Visa System Streamlined for Foreign Experts under Board of Investment (BOI) scheme
The BOI, Ministry of Labor, and Immigration Bureau are cooperating to streamline the process by which qualifying non-Thai nationals can simultaneously apply for BOI endorsement letters, visas, and work permits.
Under a new scheme, called the “Single Window”, an application can be submitted online. If successful, the applicant will receive an “e-Permit” instead of a standard work permit, along with their visa, without need to submit a full, hard-copy application. The new process is currently in a limited trial phase, and is expected to come into force for the general public in 2018.