The Ministry of Labour is in talks with neighbouring countries under a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to allow migrant workers who complete their four-year term this year to carry on working in the kingdom for another six months.
Boonchob Suttamanaswong, the minister's permanent secretary, said the goal is to help businesses that rely on migrants to operate smoothly during the Covid-19 pandemic. He was speaking after a meeting of the policy committee on migrant worker management.
The aim is to prevent labour shortages and ensure the working environment is safe from Covid-19 by ensuring the same staff stay with a company longer, he said.
Employment Department Director-General Pairoj Chotikasathien said migrant workers normally are allowed to work in Thailand for two years but the term can be extended another two years for four years in total.
After completing their terms, they need to return to their countries and resubmit requests to work in Thailand again.
The government signed an MoU on labour with Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar last December.
The aim is to ensure a good balance between containing the spread of Covid-19, protecting worker rights and responding to growing demand for migrant workers, he said.
Under the MoU, employers must pay a work permit fee of 1,900 baht per worker.
They will undergo three RT-PCR tests, each costing 1,300 baht, and 14 days of quarantine at state-certified facilities charging 500 baht a day or 7,000 baht for the entire duration.
Employers must also pay for Covid-19 medical insurance worth 900 baht. That amounts to 14,000 baht per worker for employers and excludes the costs of travel and visas.
In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Labour, Interior, Public Health, Foreign Affairs ministries and Immigration Bureau have agreed to let migrant workers who have completed their four-year terms in 2022 stay and work for another six months.
During the six-month extension, labourers will be able to carry out a work permit renewal process to work in Thailand longer. They need to submit medical certification to renew their work permit for another two years, Mr Pairoj said.
The proposal will be submitted to the neighbouring countries before being handed to the cabinet for approval, he said.