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Information Regarding the Labor Courts in Thailand

Transcript of the above video:

As the title to this video suggests we are going to be discussing the Labor Courts here in the Kingdom. I get a lot of questions about Labor Courts generally and there seems to be a lot of misunderstanding about what they are there for. There also seems to be a lot of misunderstanding as to just sort of how the Court system works here, just sort of generally.  I am not going to go into too great detail because I am not a Thai attorney; I am an American trained attorney but I have dealt with the Labor Court  personally actually and many of our clients that are with our Thai attorney staff here deal with the Labor Courts from time to time. So think of this video more as information on adjusting one’s paradigm to understanding how Labor Courts are going to work.

There is this common notion that the Thai Labor Courts  are “pro labor” if you will,  and although in a sense I would say that they tend to be more sympathetic to the plight of labor, which is the reason they were created, the Thai Labor Courts were created in order to in effect mitigate the power of big capital from running roughshod over the interests of really the individual laborer and frankly where conduct is really egregious against laborers in Thailand I think the Labor Courts necessity is borne out; you  see why the Labor Courts are really necessary when you can see sometimes how people can be treated rather unfairly by a given employer. At the same time and this is especially the case with foreign nationals, I find that many seem to think that they can sort of use the Labor Court as a big stick to beat over the head somebody they work for in the Kingdom. It is not really set up that way. The Labor Court in fact, there is an arbitration mechanism, that is very, very different to any of the court systems in the United States, insofar as there is sort of a mandatory arbitration period where they try to go ahead and mitigate the issue and negotiate things out before it even gets to an actual court, an actual tribunal, and in point of fact, in the matters where I have been in Labor Court it is an actual tribunal. There is generally a representative from labor representative there to sort of represent management, for lack of a better term or capital or business and then there is an actual judge and generally speaking the judge is going to try and go ahead and interpret things in compliance with the Labor code and strictly speaking where there is no contract, the Labor code is going to fully control. Even with a contract,  if the terms of a given contract  contravene Labor code here in Thailand, it is possible that the terms of that contract can be overturned although I am getting outside of my bailiwick; I’m just simply providing a paradigm to the viewer here because getting into contracts versus the labor code, that is certainly a job for the Thai attorneys and I will leave them to that  so those who are in a situation where they have a complex employment agreement, issues associated with covenants not to compete, non- compete agreements, issues associated with proposed severance, all of this stuff you are really going to want to contact a Thai legal professional in order to gain further insight into how this is going to operate and thereby basically set a strategy by which you can go ahead and if you are up let the plaintiff go ahead  and make your best case support or if you are a small business or a large business best defend yourself sometimes against rather frivolous claims as frivolous claims have been known to be brought up in Labor Court. At the same time very serious claims have been known to be brought up in Labor Court. It is an interesting mechanism. It is not one we really have in the United States and I would actually make a strong argument that maybe it should be looked at because it does provide a substantial amount of benefit especially in those circumstances where a rather little guy individual is operating against a rather large company and in those cases the Labor Court can be very beneficial. But I especially see this attitude amongst foreign nationals think they can sort of come to Thailand and use the Thai labor Courts as like a big stick to go after the man or something. That is really not the case; that is not what they are there for. They are there to try to mitigate between Labor and business in order to maintain as much harmony as possible.