Thailand cracks down on expats changing or leaving jobs
25 April 2019
All expatriates living and working in Thailand must now inform the authorities if they change jobs or leave their present job.
In an announcement today, the Thai Labour Ministry reiterated all foreigners working in the country who’ve either taken a new job or left a previous position must inform the Department of Employment within 15 days of the change. Fines levied on those who fail to comply are set at between 10,000 and and 200,000 baht, dependent on how many laws have been supposedly broken or protocols ignored.
For low-waged workers from neighbouring states, most of whom are employed as unskilled labour in the construction industry, will only be allowed seven days to notify the authorities of their change in employment status. Notification is via workers’ local employment office, with those unsure of what to do advised to talk with their human resources representative – if they actually have one. The message to foreign labourers seems to be employers aren’t to be trusted to help as it’s the worker who will be fined, not the contractor.
Apparently, the law has been on the statute books for a good while, with the Department of Labour only now resurrecting it and putting workers on notice that it’s their responsibility to ensure they get it right, whether or not they can speak Thai well enough to be understood. Also, according to the ministry spokesperson, many employers seem not to be aware of the system as it’s not their responsibility to make the reports.
It’s not yet clear how the law will be fairly enforced, especially as low-waged labourers arrive in Thailand seeking work from a variety of surrounding countries as well as from the mountainous hill tribe regions, nor is it certain how it will apply to first world country expatriate professionals working in Thailand’s major cities. It has been said in the English language press that laws against illegal working have been applied mostly to ‘dark-skinned expats’ on visa overstays, most of whom were from India or Africa.