New Migrant Worker Regulations
By Khun Sam and Sai Silp
March 15, 2006
The Thai government has amended its registration policy for migrant workers, allowing them to apply for work permits without a previously required deposit, according to an official announcement.
The Ministry of Labour’s official website on Wednesday quoted Labor Minister Somsak Thepsutin as saying: \"After the ministry’s meeting with employers who want to hire migrant workers, the ministry agreed to postpone the payment of deposit money.\" He went on to say that the ministry would reconsider the amount of deposit required for different kinds of jobs and businesses, and announce a decision by June.
Under the new procedure, employers still have to register their workers before the existing March 30 deadline, but will only have to pay a standard work permit fee of 3,800 baht (nearly US $100) for each worker. The previous policy required employers to make an additional deposit of between 10,000 ($250) and 50,000 baht ($1,250) for each worker. The deposits were introduced to encourage employers to take better care of their employers, and control the flow of migrant workers who move around the country without permission or engage in criminal activity
Pranom Somwong, a project coordinator for the Migrant Assistance Program foundation, said that strong criticism from employers—who had been complaining that the required deposits were too high—might have encouraged the government to change its policy. If employers were to release workers instead of paying the deposits, Pranom said, Thailand may face labor shortages in processing industries and a negative impact on the country’s overall economy.
Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Wednesday, Pranom described the development as \"semi-positive,\" and said that it would be a positive step for Thailand to \"take recommendations from the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, or from migrant worker support groups or human rights groups.\" Pranom remains optimistic that by June the Thai government will scrap the deposit system altogether.
Thailand has over 1.2 million migrant workers (legal and illegal) from Burma, Cambodia and Laos, according to official statistics. However, the country still faces a severe labor shortage and is unable to meet growing industrial demands, prompting officials to frequently revise registration procedures.