More foreigners employed in tourism

More foreigners employed in tourism

Labour Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn (photo: Ministry of Labour)
Labour Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn (photo: Ministry of Labour)

The illegal employment of foreigners in Thailand is still a concern for the tourism sector, while a minimum wage hike for local workers in the sector should be announced by Songkran, according to the Labour Ministry.

Labour Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said the ministry has monitored the situation in recent years, with data from October 2023 to February 2024 revealing that 13,424 foreigners were employed illegally, particularly in popular tourism destinations. The trend is growing as the number of illegal foreign workers rose from 35,258 in fiscal 2022 to 42,520 in fiscal 2023, according to the Employment Department.

Mr Phiphat said some foreigners were working in occupations reserved for Thai nationals, such as tour guides and barbers.

The government prosecuted 505 foreigners for working illegally, who were all convicted of working in occupations reserved for Thais. The majority were from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos.

He said the most common occupations for foreigners are: sales clerk at a store; street vendor; construction job; and barber.

The department was assigned to collaborate with related authorities, including the Immigration Bureau and Commerce Ministry, to track down nominee businesses run by foreigners. In fiscal 2023, the government surveyed 42,520 foreign workers across all provinces and prosecuted 1,641 of them.

Mr Phiphat said the ministry is working on a scheme to raise the minimum wage in 10 tourism provinces as the industry rebounds, expected to reach a level of activity on par with 2019.

The 10 targeted provinces are Bangkok, Phuket, Chon Buri, Chiang Mai, Surat Thani, Krabi, Songkhla, Phangnga, Prachuap Khiri Khan and Rayong.

A study to establish an appropriate wage was conducted among operators and employees in 950 tourism businesses and venues. For enterprises with more than 50 employees, 3-5 staff were interviewed, while for companies with more than 100 employees, 10 staff were surveyed.

Mr Phiphat said the tripartite wage committee is scheduled to meet tomorrow to evaluate the results of the study.

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