More than four million maids employed in houses nationwide will be entitled to at least one day off a week under new regulations to improve their working conditions, effective from Friday.
Labour Minister Padermchai Sasomsap signed the amendment to the ministerial regulation on Oct 30.
Under the new regulation, domestic workers are entitled to at least one day off each week, plus 13 traditional paid holidays a year, six days paid annual leave after one year of employment, and three days of paid sick leave a year.
The new rules also require employers to pay wages directly to maids who are younger than 18.
Employers are prohibited from paying workers' wages to third parties, including job brokers.
Pakorn Amorncheewin, director-general of the Labour Protection and Welfare Department, warned that employers would be fined up to 20,000 baht if they failed to give their maids at least one day off each week or do not pay them during their entitled sick leave.
Employers could face a jail term of up to six months and/or a fine of 100,000 baht if they failed to pay wages to their maids who worked on official holidays.
However, a human rights advocate warned the new rules will not work without proper enforcement, voicing continued concerns about a lack of public information and protection for domestic workers' rights.
Surapong Kongchantuk, of the Lawyers Council of Thailand's human rights subcommittee, said although the Labour Ministry has amended its regulations to improve the rights of domestic workers, the public -- particularly employers and their maids -- were left in the dark.
He said no amendments were made to several key issues related to domestic workers' rights, including their working hours and wages.
Unlike other workers in the formal sector, household maids' minimum daily wages have not been protected, he said.
Mr Surapong said domestic workers receive wages below the minimum rate set by the government.
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- Writer: Penchan Charoensuthipan