There is no doubt that that in terms of employment laws here in the West, we often feel very lucky and also unique, to have such stringent and effective regulations. We feel protected and when we begin a new post we know what we should expect. When looking for work overseas – especially perhaps in eastern countries such as Thailand – we may be filled with doubt that those fundamental rules do not exist – making the whole idea of working abroad very risky.
Thailand Has Strict Employment Laws
The fact is Thailand has very robust laws to make sure you are protected throughout your employment. Understanding both the laws and how employment expectations may be slightly different from the west, will make winning a job and creating a career in Thailand so much easier.
In an earlier article, we looked at what to look for when searching for work. This article looks a little bit deeper at how employment law works. You need to be satisfied you are happy to work within these laws. Once you are offered a position it is important to check to make sure these regulations are in place.
A Written Contract
As with all employment anywhere in the world there is no substitute for a written agreement. Once you have been offered the post, ensure that you have the terms and conditions in writing along with a full job description and contract which outlines such important areas as hours, pay, annual leave sick pay, conditions around notice, and training.
This should not be too much of a problem in Thailand as employers with 10 or more staff must draft working rules and regulations (generic rules should also be displayed somewhere in the work environment). The agreement between employee and employer must not offer standards which are deemed to be be less than the minimum requirements devised by law.
Recent Laws and Inspections by Government Bodies
The Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare is charged with implementing labor laws and implementing labor inspections. Employers are aware of these inspections and are therefore wary of the possibility of subsequent penalisation if they did not keep to regulations.
The most important regulation issued by the government in recent years in Thailand is The Labor protection Act (1998). This brought employment practices in line with the principles outlined by the International Labor Organisation (ILO) and concerns rights of the worker and employer, remuneration, severance and employee welfare fund (for the sick and disabled). Also, trade unions are a force in Thailand. Due to acts brought out in 2000 and 1975, workers who have a dispute with their employer can use collective bargaining to help negotiate an agreement.
Salary and Wage
Just as with any other country, the only deductions an employer can legally make from a worker’s pay is income tax and other deductions required by law; trade union dues; debts to do with welfare benefits; and agreed contributions to pension funds.
Working hours should not go above 8 hours per day and 48 hours per week. These hours are flexible and shift hours may have to be taken into consideration. A worker can take overtime but cannot be forced to work overtime.
Employees in Thailand are generally allowed one day holiday per week. Intervals between holidays must not exceed 6 days. An employee who works continuously for 1 year is due 6 days annual leave on top of 13 paid public holidays each year and an allowance for 10 days business leave.
An employee is allowed 30 days paid sick leave per year and as in the west, a medical certificate is required after 3 days.
If the contract does not specify termination duration, the employer (or employee) can give 1 days’ notice. If the worker is dismissed for a permitted statutory reason then the employer may be exempted from giving severance pay. An employer may not dismiss a worker for pregnancy or for trade union activities. An employer is legally within their rights to terminate employment, without notice or severance, should an employee not be present in work for more than 3 days without prior notice. If an employee feels they have been unfairly dismissed or that they have not received appropriate severance pay they can complain to the Labor Welfare Committee.
The employer may terminate the employees position without cause but severance pay must be given. Severance pay is based on length of service:
Severance Pay Rate
120 days – less than 1 year
30 days’ pay
1 year – less than 3 years
90 days’ pay
3 years – less than 6 years
180 days’ pay
6 years – less than 10 years
240 days’ pay
10 years and over
300 days pay
Women and Children
The employment laws in Thailand state that male and females should be treated equally. An employer, a superior, controller, or inspector are prohibited to sexually menace or harass employees – especially female employees. A pregnant female is allowed 90 days for each pregnancy. 45 days are paid by the employer with a further 45 days paid by the government. Paternity leave is still a grey area and is pretty much up to the discretion of the employer.
The minimum age, an employer is allowed to employ a child is 15. Even then, the inspectorate must be informed within 15 days if a child under the age of 18 is engaged in work. The employee must provide rest hours of 1 hour every 4 hours and a child cannot be asked to work overtime or between the times of 10:00 pm to 06:00 am.
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