The cabinet has approved the extension of employment contracts that allow more than 200,000 migrant workers to keep their jobs at least until the new government takes office, according to Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam.
The cabinet has given the green light to extend the employment of workers from Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia.
The cabinet earlier rejected the Labour Ministry’s request for the extension, fearing it would create a burden of responsibility for the new government, which should be left to decide on the matter, Mr Wissanu said.
However, the cabinet has changed its mind and approved the extension as the lingering uncertainty over the government’s formation threatens to leave a huge labour vacuum.
Mr Wissanu said if the extension did not materialise, the migrant workers would have to return home and wait until the government took power before they could come back to resume their jobs here.
He insisted, however, that the contract extension would only last for as long as the current government remains in its caretaking capacity. The measure is subject to review once the government is replaced.
“If the employment [of migrant workers] is not renewed, the police will be conducting the crackdown and business owners will be afraid to hire the migrant workers,” the deputy prime minister said.
He clarified that the employment extension does not require endorsement from the Election Commission (EC) as it does not involve the spending of state money.
Government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said on Tuesday the cabinet’s green light was intended to reinforce economic security.
The extension applies to migrant workers who came under the labour-related memorandum of understanding (MoU) the government has signed with their respective native countries.
The employment period lasts up to four years, and it varies from worker to worker. The extension approved by the cabinet on Tuesday will expire on July 31.
Meanwhile, Mr Wissanu said if the current government stays on in a caretaker role beyond Oct 1, the constitution permits it to use the state funds allocated to various ministries until the new government takes over and the new central budget kicks in.
Oct 1 marks the beginning of the new fiscal year.
Mr Wissanu said the spending of state funds amounting to less than 100 million baht is permissible without obtaining prior approval from the EC. Any long-term financial obligation is tied over to the next government.
He added that a caretaker cabinet may endorse the appointment of officials from the rank of deputy director-general downward.