Thai Cabinet mulls longer stay for foreign hires

16 February 2016
Thai Cabinet mulls longer stay for foreign hires
Thai military officer (L) checks the documents of Myanmar migrant workers queueing at the One Stop Service for the Registration of Migrant Workers in Samut Sakhon Provincial Social Security Office, in Samut Sakhon, southwest of the capital Bangkok, Thailand, 30 June 2014. Photo: Narong Sangnak/EP

The cabinet will be asked to increase the period in which legal foreign labourers can work in Thailand by one year and extend the time for verifying the nationalities of foreign labourers who want legal status.
Currently, workers possessing "pink-card work permits" can work in Thailand for one year and are required to renew their permits if they want to continue working.
Under the new proposal, these workers can work for two years before renewing their permits, said Arak Phrommani, chief of the Department of Employment, yesterday.
A committee handling foreign worker policies, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Gen PrawitWongsuwon, decided on the work extension.
Mr Arak said he expected the proposal, together with a request for a deadline extension for nationality verification procedures, will be forwarded to the cabinet for a final say next Tuesday.
However, the workers will be allowed by law to work for a maximum of eight years, he said.
The new benefit will be applicable only to workers with legal status gained through reporting to authorities and going through inspection procedures including nationality verification.
The government has set March 31 as the deadline for nationality verification, but there are currently up to 1.4 million labourers from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos in the queue for the nationality check.
This prompted the committee's decision to ask the cabinet to extend the verification deadline and allow the labourers to stay and work temporarily in Thailand, Mr Arak said.
These workers need the nod from the cabinet as their work permits are also going to expire, a source said.
If their nationalities are not checked by authorities, they will face problems when they return to their home countries. State officials may deny them entry, the source said.
This can lead to them living and working illegally in Thailand, which would eventually cause a setback in the labour policy of the National Council for Peace and Order, which has been regulating foreign workers since mid-2014.
Ambassadors from the three neighbouring countries have applauded the NCPO's efforts, saying putting foreign workers under state watch can help protect against labour abuse.
The committee yesterday also decided to ask the cabinet to give illegal foreign labourers a chance to report to authorities. Reports suggest their number stands at 1.5 million.
They include immigrants who sneaked into the country, labourers who changed their places of work without notice and those who failed to have their nationalities checked.