New foreign labour law: Harm potential to Thai economy

New foreign labour law: Harm potential to Thai economy

Thai business says new law with harsh punishment for foreign labor could harm Thai economy.


New foreign labour law: Harm potential to Thai economy

Private sector rips rules on foreign hires


Lamonphet Apisitniran, Phusadee Arunmas & Kanana Katharangsiporn

A tighter law on foreign workers has been announced with massive fines for employers who employ illegal workers.

The private sector says local companies, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), are likely to be hurt by this new law.

Thailand's ageing population, consequent labour shortages and hiring of migrant workers to cope with labour shortages means that the new labour law could cut Thai SMEs' competitive advantage at a time when the Thai economy has yet to fully recover.


The new law contains stronger punishments with fines ranging as high as 400,000-800,000 baht.

The fines are imposed at progressive rates: the more migrant workers the employer has, the higher the fine the employer faces.


"We have got many complaints from our members that many companies, especially SMEs, were badly affected by the implementation of the Royal Decree on Recruitment of Foreigners [as it is called]," Mr Chen said, adding that the law took effect on June 23.

The new law is unlikely to harm giant companies because they have the resources to recruit foreigners in compliance with the new law, Mr Chen said.

Big fines fines could cause a huge burden for smaller SMES and reduce the competitive advantage of Thai SMEs, which are struggling to survive.

Chanintr Chalisarapong, the president of the Thai Tuna Industry Association (TTIA), said the new law will hurt not only employers but also employees, particularly migrant workers with lesser skills.

"And the lack of those migrant workers at a time that SMEs still need cheap labour to operate could mean disruptions to the Thai economy, which is on the recovery path," Mr Chanintr said.


The definition of "recruitment of foreigners" covers migrant workers and cheap labour brought in from the neighbouring countries of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

Those labourers play a crucial role in production at Thai SMEs.


Thirapat Chirapipat, managing director of the contractor Chiangmai Rimdoi Plc, said the new regulations related to alien workers, present a fresh risk for the construction sector.

"The new regulations may cause a labour shortage," Mr Thirapat said.

"Costs will also be higher because we rely on 80-90% alien workers."


Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC) chairman Kalin Sarasin said his group and other private associations are brainstorming solutions and have sent word to the government demanding a quick response.

"At this stage, hundreds of TCC members are trying to evaluate the impact of this new law on their business," Mr Kalin said.

Chen Namchaisiri, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), said the FTI sent an open letter to the Labour Ministry requesting that related state agencies seek solutions and policies to reduce the adverse impact of tighter labour regulations.


According to the new law, the aim is to raise the standards of recruitment and management of labour and avoid accusations of abuse or even human trafficking by the international community.

However, public participation and consultation of the business community has obviously been lacking in the drafting the new law, as evidenced by the surprised and angry response by the business community to the new law. 

The new law is the latest in a series of potentially greatly disruptive new policies and laws launched by the military regime without public consultation. The changes slated for the universal healthcare system is the latest example. Public hearings were only held at the end of the policy creation process which only allows for public rubberstamping of policy, not actual input making new laws responsive to public needs.  

If the practice of informally employing illegal workers from neighbouring Burma, Laos and Cambodia is widespread, as it seems to be (even at local noodle shops), the law may simply be unenforceable or, as some have pointed out, merely provide opportunities for bribes and corruption for local officials selectively enforcing the law.


According to the TTIA, there are more than 2 million migrant workers in Thailand and most have yet to properly register and are likely in violation of the law.

"We demand that the government seek some rescue measures to reduce the adverse effects on the real sector [businesses, private  sector], which still badly needs those migrant workers, especially the SMEs," Mr Chanintr said.

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  • abuse (noun): cruel, violent or unfair treatment, especially of someone who does not have the power to prevent it - การข่มเหง, การปฏิบัติไม่ดีต่อ
  • accusation: a statement that someone has done something wrong or illegal even though this has not been proved - ข้อกล่าวหา
  • advantage: a condition giving a greater chance of success - ความได้เปรียบ
  • adverse: having a negative or harmful effect on something - ในทางลบ, เป็นผลร้าย
  • ageing: growing old - สูงวัยขึ้น
  • aim: purpose; goal - เป้าหมาย จุดมุ่งหมาย
  • alien: a foreigner; someone who is not a citizen of the country where they are living or staying - คนต่างด้าว
  • announce: to tell people something officially, especially about a decision, plans, etc - ประกาศ, แจ้ง, แจ้งให้ทราบ
  • avoid: to try to prevent something from happening - หลีกเลี่ยง
  • burden: a serious or difficult responsibility that you have to deal with - ภาระ
  • cheap: costing little money or less money than you expected - ถูก
  • community: a group of people who share the same job, interests, religion, etc - สังคม
  • competitive: involving competition - มีการแข่งขัน
  • complaint: when someone says that something is wrong or not satisfactory - การบ่น, ข้อที่ไม่พอใจ
  • compliance: the practice of obeying a law, rule, or request - การยอมทำตาม
  • consequent (adjective): happening as the result of something, the result of - ที่เป็นผลที่ตามมา
  • contractor: a person or company whose job is to do work for another person, organisation, company, etc. - ผู้รับเหมา
  • cost: an amount of money that people need to pay for something - ค่า
  • cover: include -
  • crucial (adj): extremely important because it effects the result of something - สำคัญยิ่ง
  • decree: an official decision or order made by a leader or government - พระราชกฤษฎีกา
  • definition: a statement of what a word or expression means - คำจำกัดความ,คำอธิบาย
  • demand: a very firm request for something - ข้อเรียกร้อง, การเรียกร้อง
  • disruption: a situation in which something cannot continue because of a problem - การขัดขวาง, การหยุดชะงัก
  • effects (noun): changes that somebody/something causes in somebody/something else; a result - ผลกระทบ
  • employ: to have someone work or do a job for you and pay them for it - ว่าจ้าง, จ้าง
  • employee: someone who is paid regularly to work for a person or an organisation - ลูกจ้าง
  • employer: a person, company, or organisation that pays someone to work for them as a member of their staff - นายจ้าง
  • especially: more with one person, thing, etc. than with others, or more in particular circumstances than in others - โดยเฉพาะอย่างยิ่ง
  • evidenced: shown to be true - พิสูจน์
  • fine: an amount of money that you have to pay because you have broken the law - ค่าปรับ
  • fresh: new; made or experienced recently - ใหม่, เมื่อเร็วๆนี้, สดๆ ร้อนๆ
  • harm: damage - ความเสียหาย
  • huge: very large - ใหญ่โต
  • human trafficking: the trade of humans, most commonly for the purpose of sexual slavery, forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others (Source: Wikipedia) - การค้ามนุษย์
  • illegal: against the law - ผิดกฎหมาย, นอกกฎหมาย
  • implementation: the process of making something such as a plan, system, idea or law start to work and be used - การบังคับใช้ (กฎหมาย)
  • industry: the people and activities involved in producing a particular thing, or in providing a particular service; the production of goods from raw materials, especially in factories - อุตสาหกรรม
  • international: connected with or involving two or more countries - นานาชาติ, สากล, ระหว่างประเทศ
  • labour: people whose job involves hard physical work that is not skilled, especially work that is done outdoors - กรรมกร, ผู้ใช้แรงงาน
  • labour: work, especially hard physical work - งานที่ใช้พละกำลัง
  • lack (verb): to not have something - ขาด
  • lack of: when there is not enough of something - ขาด
  • local (adjective): in this country (Thailand) -
  • managing director (MD): the top manager of a company, similar to a CEO, the member of a company's board of directors who is responsible for running a company on a daily basis -
  • massive: very large in size, amount or number - ใหญ่โต
  • measure: a firm action taken to solve a problem or stop a dangerous unpleasant situation - มาตราการ
  • member: a person, a country or an organization that has joined a particular group, club or team - สมาชิก
  • migrant worker: someone who travels to another place or country in order to find work - คนงานต่างถิ่น
  • neighbouring: located or living near or next to a place or person - ติดกัน, ที่อยู่ใกล้เคียง, ที่ตั้งอยู่ใกล้เคียง
  • operate: to carry out an activity like running a business - ดำเนินการ
  • particularly: especially, or more than usual - โดยเฉพาะ
  • path: a plan of action or a way of achieving something - เส้นทาง, วิถีทาง, แนวทาง
  • population: a particular group of people or animals living in a particular area - กลุ่มที่อาศัยอยู่ในที่เดียวกัน
  • private sector: businesses and industries that are not owned or controlled by the government - ภาคเอกชน
  • production: the process of making goods or materials, especially large quantities - การผลิต
  • progressive: gradually increasing - ค่อยๆ เพิ่มขึ้น
  • punishment: an act or a way of punishing somebody - การลงโทษ
  • real sector: private sector; businesses and industries that are not owned or controlled by the government - ภาคเอกชน
  • recover (verb): to become normal and healthy again - ฟื้นฟูสภาพ, ฟื้นฟูร่างกาย
  • recovery (noun): the process of becoming normal and healthy again - การฟื้นตัว, การฟื้นฟู
  • recruit: to get someone to work in a company or join an organisation - จ้างงาน  จัดหาเจ้าหน้าที่หรือบุคคลากร
  • recruitment: the process of finding people to work for a company or become a new member of an organisation - การสรรหาใหม่
  • reduce: to make something smaller or less in amount, size, importance etc - ลดลง
  • regulations: official rules that control the way that things are done - ระเบียบปฏิบัติ
  • related to (verb): to be connected with something/somebody; to refer to something/somebody - เชื่อมโยงกับ
  • rescue: saving a person or animal from a dangerous or unpleasant situation - การช่วยชีวิต
  • resource: a supply of something that a country, an organization or a person has and can use - ทรัพยากร
  • response: a reaction to something that has happened or been said - การตอบสนอง
  • risk: the possibility that something dangerous or unpleasant might happen - ความเสี่ยง
  • shortage (noun): when there is not enough of something - การขาดแคลน
  • shortages (noun): when there is not enough of certain things - การขาดแคลน
  • skills (noun): the ability to do certain things well, usually as a result of experience and training - ฝีมือ, ทักษะ
  • standards: rules for behaving which should be obeyed - มาตรฐาน, บรรทัดฐาน, กฎเกณฑ์, กรอบ
  • struggle: a very difficult task that you can do only by making a great effort - ความพยายาม
  • survive: to continue to exist - รอดพ้น
  • took effect: began to be used or required - ส่งผล
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