Migrant workers from Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia whose work permits expire next year are being allowed to continue working in Thailand for up to two more years.
Permission for the legally registered migrant workers to stay longer was approved at the weekly cabinet meeting on Tuesday, according to deputy government spokeswoman Rachada Dhnadirek.
She said the decision would benefit about 130,000 such migrant workers around the country but it only relates to those recruited under a labour agreement signed by the respective countries.
Migrant workers who complete four years of employment here in December next year would normally be required to return to their home countries before being being allowed to re-apply for new work permits.
However, the current labour shortage in Thailand caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has compelled the government to allow the migrant workers in question to remain provided they renew their work permits as soon as the old ones expire.
That means they can remain here to work for a further two more years from December 2021, said Ms Rachada.
The pandemic is raging in Myanmar, preventing a large number of migrant workers from returning to Thailand, so the latest move would alleviate the shortage, she added.
Migrant workers taking advantage of the permit extension will need to satisfy a few conditions.
They will have to undergo health checks, have their work permit verified, formally seek an employment extension with the labour office, pay a fee of 1,900 baht and re-register their employment record.
Suchart Pornchaiwisetkul, director-general of Department of Employment, said the extension has been discussed with authorities in the other countries and all had given it their blessing.