Migrant workers already in kingdom get grace period

Migrant workers already in kingdom get grace period

Migrant workers visit the one-stop service centre at the Labour Ministry in Bangkok in 2018. (Bangkok Post file photo)
Migrant workers visit the one-stop service centre at the Labour Ministry in Bangkok in 2018. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Migrant workers whose employment expires starting next month can remain in the kingdom instead of having to return to their home countries to re-apply for employment from there, says Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin.

The decision to allow the grace period, reached by the migrant workers' policy management committee chaired by Mr Suchart on Tuesday, was intended to stave off the spread of Covid-19.

He explained if the migrant workers return to their home countries after having worked in Thailand for four years, as required under the memorandum of understanding signed between the government and those of respective countries, they might seek to come back to resume their employment.

This raises concerns about them contracting Covid-19 while waiting to get back and bringing the virus with them when they return, according to Mr Suchart. 

There is a real risk of imported infections triggering a second outbreak wave, he added. 

Although Mr Suchart did not say how long the grace period will last, he made it clear the issue will be proposed for the cabinet to consider in due course. 

Eligible for the grace period are migrant workers whose four-year employment contracts end starting from next month until the end of December next year. 

Mr Suchart added that for the migrant workers, returning to their countries and re-applying for jobs from there while also being subject to anti-Covid-19 measures including the 14-day quarantine at both ends would incur costs so steep that it would make such trips unaffordable and impractical.

Altogether 131,587 migrant workers from Myanmar, Lao and Cambodia will see their working permits expire between next month and December next year, according to the Labour Ministry.

Of them, 72,937 are from Myanmar, 34,053 from Cambodia and 24,597 from Lao. 

Mr Suchart said those eligible will need to submit a formal request to remain in the kingdom, along with a health certificate. They will also have to pay a fee for the special visa granted them during the grace period. 

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