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YouTubing and Work Permits in Thailand

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing YouTube and work authorization in Thailand. In my personal life, I find it interesting when it intersects with my professional life and people are asking me the same things on both sides of the Looking Glass if you will. I say to myself "well maybe we should do something to cover that in a video."

I have done a number of videos, I think I have done two specifically on YouTubing and Work Permits. I have done other videos and I am going to quote from one of them here in a moment on work just generally in Thailand. I have already discussed this on this channel before but long story short, yeah if you are working and you are making a YouTube video in Thailand, you have a YouTube channel, it could be construed as work in my opinion and in the opinion of the other Thai Attorneys in the firm. We have looked at this, we have discussed this before again on this channel. Notwithstanding the fact that folks aren't being called out on it doesn't necessarily mean it is not a violation of the Thai Labour laws. The reason this came to my attention, I have had like three or four people, again I have been talking to in a personal context and even acquaintances who have said: "What is the rule on YouTube and Work Permits?" All these people and I think they are thinking that with COVID there has been kind of a proliferation of YouTube videos out there. We certainly at one point have a lot more time to dedicate to doing YouTube videos especially on the permutations and the evolution of the Thai Immigration system and then I got some comments, I got some emails and this one comment was kind of indicative and I think this was meant to be in the negative and I will explain why in a moment but in a prior video we did, again on YouTubing and work authorization, there was a commenter that said "very sad these people that want to raise barriers, put billboards in airports, no cameras or smartphones allowed with (I think it was meant to be without) a Work Permit. Pure buffalo crap!" Look, I don't make the rules on this. This is not me saying that if you are doing YouTube in Thailand you need to have a Work Permit. I am saying that based on what we have seen in the regulations, the decrees, the Labour Law of Thailand, yeah I think if you are doing YouTube, it COULD be construed as being in violation of Thai Labour Law.

I go back to a video we did, it is actually on our website We put up a transcript of the video which I am going to quote directly, this was titled, this was over a year ago: What is the Legal Definition of Work in Thailand? So in that video, and I will go ahead and put a link to the video in the description below to that video directly so you can see both the transcript and the video, but we were quoting from the Foreigners Working Management Emergency Decree of 2017. Folks who are long time viewers, long time frequent watchers may recall back in '17 and '18, there were substantial changes to the Thai Work Regulations. There was a decree in ’17, there was another one in '18 that had a pretty tremendous impact on Work Authorization rules in Thailand. In this video previously we were quoting from the Department of Employment's website that is but quoting directly from section 5 of again the Foreigners Working Management Emergency Decree of 2017, "Work means the use of physical strength or knowledge for engaging in an occupation or a job with or without an intention to obtain wages or any other benefit except the work prescribed in the notification of the Minister." And there is a lot more in there. They go on to say there could be exceptions to that rule, specifically Ministerial Regulation can be promulgated to create exceptions; the Minister himself can create exceptions, but again it doesn't matter if you are getting paid. "With or without an intention to obtain wages" and work means “the use of physical strength or knowledge for engaging in an occupation or job". So job is one thing; a job is like what we think 9 to 5, whatever. Occupation could just be something you do. I mean for lack of a better term that is analogous to a hobby. YouTube could definitely be considered an occupation and again I think it would definitely be concerned an occupation for those who monetize their endeavors. I want to be clear, I am not casting aspersions at anyone who undertakes this. This is not any kind of rebuke against them. It is more a warning in a sense that look just because the system hasn't noticed yet, and law and bureaucracy always looks backward. It is never particularly forward looking especially law enforcement agencies and things, but again as YouTube becomes more ubiquitous, it would not shock me to see people that get into some hot water over work authorization issues associated with YouTube. I am not saying it is a foregone conclusion either but understand the way that work is defined in Thailand is very broad, it does not have to be compensated and those who are clearly engaging in what could be described as work and filming oneself, engaging in an occupation could be deemed work. It is not that big of a stretch. Again it is not a foregone conclusion that it is going to happen but  I have had a lot of people, in some cases in a rather friendly way, that have wanted to challenge that notion but I think it is fairly straightforward. If you are engaging in, again just one more time: "use of physical strength or knowledge for engaging in an occupation or a job with or without intention to obtain wages or any other benefit", that is a lot of things and I would say it is not an unreasonable argument to presume YouTube could fit into that framework. I am not saying that it necessarily does but I am saying it could be construed that way.

So again, that is basically my take on it. I have vetted this with the Thai Attorneys here in the firm. In a general sense, yeah, I think those who are not work authorized in Thailand, especially those who may be earning their living off YouTube, really need to be careful.