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Thailand’s Department of Employment has urged employers to ensure their migrant workers from Burma, Laos and Cambodia complete the registration process allowing them to work in Thailand for another two years before the 29 July deadline or face harsh punishments.
Department chief Arrak Phrammani said Tuesday a total of 786,743 workers, 17,218 of whom were children, had registered at service centres and Employment Department offices in the provinces while almost 10,000 people had yet to register.
The registration period was extended from 31 March. Arrak warned the deadline would no longer be extended and after that his department would strictly examine employees and workplaces to see whether they hired alien workers who did not have work permits.
Violating employers face a maximum fine of 100,000 baht (US$2,840) for each illegal worker. The workers face jail terms of up to five years and fines of up to 100,000 baht.
Under the 23 February cabinet resolution, migrant workers who have not had their nationalities verified and hold temporary work permits, known as pink cards, are allowed to live and work in Thailand for a maximum of two years, or no later than 31 March 2018, after their work permits expired on 31 March this year.
Currently, pink-card holders can work in the country for one year and are then required to renew their work permits if they want to continue working.
The two-year renewal of the temporary work permit can be extended up to four times, or eight years in total.
The cabinet’s resolution applies to migrant workers from Burma, Laos and Cambodia. It also applies to their children aged under 18 who hold national verification documents issued by their countries of origin along with other documents such as passports, temporary passports, travel documents and certificates of identity.
The Prayut Chan-o-cha government has toughened up the law on illegal labourers since 2014 as part of its efforts to tackle human trafficking, especially in the fishing industry. Thailand was downgraded to the lowest Tier 3 status in the US State Department’s 2014 Trafficking in Persons report for failing to solve the problem.
Efforts to clean up the industry have been recognised by US authorities who announced on 31 June they would upgrade Thailand back to Tier 2 in the 2016 TIP report.