Punishments to be reduced in migrant decree

The cabinet will consider reducing the punishments under the foreign labour decree before it is sent to the National Legislative Assembly for enactment.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam submitted the decree for consideration on Monday. If approved, it will be sent to the National Legislative Assembly for enactment.

Government spokesman Lt Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the cabinet found two points in the bill needed to be changed.

First, the punishments are found to be too heavy and disproportionate in some cases since they are based on human trafficking offences. Misuse of labour should not result in the same penalties as human trafficking, he said.

Second, under the old law, migrant workers must stay in the same areas as their workplaces but the decree scraps it.

While an executive decree may be issued by a government in case of emergencies, it still needs to be enacted later by lawmakers before it becomes a law.

Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha issued the executive decree on migrant workers effective on June 23, with heavy fines on employers who hire illegal labourers.

It triggered an exodus of workers and a sudden labour shortage in many industries as many operators suddenly stopped hiring them, prompting the government to allow a relaxation period.

Under the decree, an employer who hires migrants for jobs prohibited to foreigners, or hires migrants without work permits or with inconsistent work permits will face a fine of 400,000 to 800,000 baht per worker.

Those who assigned migrant workers to do jobs different from what is specified in their work permits will face a fine of 400,000 baht per worker.

Migrant workers who work without a permit or do prohibited jobs will face a jail term up to five years and/or a fine of 2,000-100,000 baht. Those who take different jobs than what was specified in their work permits will be fined up to 100,000 baht.

Xinhua reported on Monday a total of 155,169 undocumented Myanmar migrant workers returned home from Thailand between June 29 to Dec 3, citing a release of Myanmar’s Home Ministry.

Of the total, 66,980 were women, according to the report.

About 4 million legal and 1 million illegal Myanmar workers are reportedly staying in Thailand.

In a bid to solve the problem of undocumented Myanmar migrant workers who are returning home out of fear of the new labour law, authorities of the two countries negotiated on issuing official documents to the workers, the authorities said.

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