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Thailand Work Permits: New Penalties for Illegal Employment

Transcript of the above video:

Today we're talking about, actually it's probably on the lips of many expats at the time of this filming. Recent rules came down, they were promulgated and published in the Royal Thai Gazette on June 22nd, 2017 which note new penalties associated with work authorization and illegal employment here in the Kingdom of Thailand. Notable points from the Royal Thai Gazette pronouncement. A couple of things I guess I should say we sort of summarized and translated these things so some things to note. Again, this is published on the Integrity Legal Blog which I've gone ahead and added a link to the description below.

So one thing to note. Should an employer, employee foreign national that work in a position specifically restricted to Thai national, such employer will be fined between 400,000 to 800,000 Baht per employee foreign national. That's a major difference before the maximum penalty for such a violation, it's about a 100,000 Baht. Second thing, should an employer allow a foreign national to work outside the scope of the employment specifically noted in the work permit, they shall be fined no more than 400,000 Baht for each employed foreign national. The issue of scope of activities pursuant to the description of the work permit is oftentimes something of an interesting theoretical argument to make with respect to what falls inside and outside the scope of an individual's work permit. Clearly, Thai policy makers are making it clear that the scope of activity noted in the Thai work permit will probably be strictly interpreted with respect to Labor Department enforcement of work permit regulations.

Number three, should a foreign national work without first obtaining a work permit or work in a position specifically restricted to Thai nationals, they may be subject to imprisonment of no more than five years and to fines between 2,000 and 100,000 Baht or both. This is notable because there's prison time associated with illegally working in Thailand and this is position specifically restricted to Thai nationals. Now, how part three and part two are going to interplay where someone's doing something and they may lie outside the scope versus something that's restricted to Thais. That's going to interesting to watch in the future. We'll keep you updated on that in future videos.

Number four, should a foreign national work on a matter which is deemed immediate and important and do so without acknowledgement of a Labor Ministry officer notably by receipt of form WP-10, they may be fined not more than 100,000 Baht. So clearly, it seems that perhaps in the past there were those who were working and it was noted that "Oh well, this was something that had to be done in a timely manner and we didn't have time to deal with relevant formalities." Clearly under the new rules, this is a problem.

Should a foreign national work outside of the scope of the job description set forth in the work permit, they may be imprisoned not more than six months and fined not more than 100,000 Baht or both. So this is specific to a foreign national. Part two was talking about employer penalties. This is talking about penalties against the individual worker, the foreign national working so clearly, this is coming from both sides where it's coming not only from the worker but also the employer.

If an individual through deceptive means explicitly or implicitly advertises they are able to bring a foreign national to work in Thailand in a domestic capacity without a work permit, they may be imprisoned three to ten years and/or fined 600,000 to one million Baht or both. That's a big one. Clearly, the Thai Labor Department officials are pretty keen on keeping unlicensed, unregulated so-called job placement agency or recruiting companies sort of out of the market here in Thailand. Anyone found operating as a foreign job placement agency without the proper license shall be subject to possible imprisonment for one to three years and fines between 200,000 and 600,000 Baht or both.

So again, this speaks specifically to recruitment agencies although the prior entry there noted that it was basically talking about individuals who claim to be placing people to jobs here in Thailand. What can we surmise from all of these? Well basically, what we can surmise is that the Thai Labor Department is not messing around anymore. These laws have tightened things up significantly. And something to keep in mind, and I think this is important to note, back in 2014 we saw the "Good guys in, bad guys out" policy implemented here in Thailand.

Two to three years on now, we've started to see more inspections, random inspections with more frequency, further resources being put into the enforcement and inspection side of immigration specifically. Now we're seeing fairly massive change with respect to Labor Department codes and regulations. I think it's fairly logical to infer especially by analogy if you're looking at immigration that there's probably going to be resources put into enforcement and inspection of things pertaining to these restrictions and I think it's fairly safe to assume that in the future, we're going to possibly be seeing not only immigration inspections but now possibly Labor Department inspections. And I can certainly say that I think we're going to start seeing much more scrutiny with respect to analysis by the officers of various Labor Department applications and applications for various forms of work permit here in Thailand.

So what can we take away from this? Well the biggest thing and it was noted in a recent article that was in Khaosod the English edition here in Thailand was one of the officers that sort of help promulgate this rule had noted that if you're already in compliance, you don't really need to be worried. And that can be said and I think that's true. Moving forward, I think there's going to be more heavy scrutiny placed on applications for work permits. I also think it's possible we're going to see inspection moving forward. These fines as they read in the rules themselves are not something to sneeze at. These are fairly serious fines and possibly with criminal penalties. So I think it is pretty safe to assume that we're looking at a possibly more tight regime when it comes to the Labor Department here in Thailand. I think it's going to be a fairly tight regime in the near future.