Cabinet softens punitive decree on migrant workers

Cabinet softens punitive decree on migrant workers

Migrant workers turn up for a medical examination at the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration-run Klang Hospital as part of their registration process before the deadline ends on March 31. The hospital, capable of seeing 200 workers per day, will increase capacity over the next few days to cater to 1,000 workers. Somchai Poomlard
Migrant workers turn up for a medical examination at the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration-run Klang Hospital as part of their registration process before the deadline ends on March 31. The hospital, capable of seeing 200 workers per day, will increase capacity over the next few days to cater to 1,000 workers. Somchai Poomlard

The cabinet approved draft amendments to the 2017 executive decree on the management of migrant workers Tuesday, lowering penalties imposed on those who flout the rules following an outcry over what was considered overly stiff punitive measures.

Ministers green-lit a proposed change to Section 101 that currently offers a maximum penalty of five years in jail and a fine of between 20,000 baht and 100,000 baht for migrant workers who lack the proper permits, said government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd.

Under the proposal, offenders will no longer face jail while the fine ceiling drops to 50,000 baht, he said. Fines under Section 102 of the decree, which prohibits the hiring of an illegal migrant worker, will also drop to between 10,000 baht and 100,000 baht, down from 400,000-800,000 baht per worker. Repeat violators will be subject to a jail sentence of up to one year or a fine of between 50,000 baht and 200,000 baht per worker, Lt Sansern said.

Another approved amendment will compel employers to inform authorities when they hire a migrant worker or if that worker changes his or her workplace, he said.

An earlier announcement requiring migrant workers to live in specific zones close to their place of work will also be axed. The controversial decree was supposed to be released on Jan 1 but this has since been delayed to July 1.

Following panic among migrant workers and concern among businesses that rely on migrant labour, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha invoked his powers under Section 44 of the charter last summer. He suspended the decree until matters surrounding it had been cleared up.

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