75% wages compo plan 'put on hold'

75% wages compo plan 'put on hold'

The Labour Ministry has decided to back off from seeking a hike to 75% compensation of the daily wage for workers affected by the Covid-19 outbreak amid resistance from labour activists, a ministry source said on Sunday.

Labour Minister MR Chatu Mongol Sonakul had proposed the change but for the time being it has been put on hold and will not go to cabinet, the source said.

The minister on Wednesday said he would ask the cabinet to approve a further increase in compensation payouts to 75% of daily wages. If approved, it would be retroactive from March.

Previously, the Social Security Office (SSO) board voiced disagreement with the Labour Ministry's plan to raise compensation payments to workers insured under the Social Security Act who lost their jobs or were suspended from work due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

The board decided on March 24 that compensation for workers should be 50% of their wages capped at 15,000 baht a month for a period of two months. The ministry, however, decided to raise the compensation payment from 50% to 62%, covering a period of three months. That proposal was approved by the cabinet on April 15. The minister went one up on that again, proposing 75%.

The maximum ceiling of the daily wage -- 500 baht a day or 15,000 baht a month -- is used to calculate the compensation. The current rate of 62% comes to 9,300 baht a month.

Arunee Srito, a labour leader on the SSO board, said yesterday it is wrong to take all the money from the 160-billion-baht Social Security Fund (SSF) to help only workers affected by the pandemic.

She said the 75% payout proposal would unfairly pass that burden to the SSF which has to take care of all contributing employees.

Manas Kosol, president of Confederation of Thai Labour (CTL), echoed the view, saying that the proposed 75% increase will allow employers to circumvent the Labour Protection Law.

Under Section 75 of the law, when a company must temporarily suspend part or all of its business operations in the face of financial hardship, it must pay employees 75% of their regular daily wages during this period.

Previously, a source on the SSO board who asked not to be named said the board had agreed with a subcommittee's proposal to classify the Covid-19 pandemic as "force majeure" under Section 75, allowing employees to seek a proportion of their salaries from the SSF. But the panel settled on 50% compensation for 60 days for those whose jobs were suspended due to the outbreak. This was because they did not lose their jobs, while the 160 billion baht fund was allocated to help those who had become unemployed, according to the source.

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