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Thailand has made an amendment to the Labor Protection Act to offer the same labor rights to remote workers. Employers can allow employees to work outside the business premises using information technology, such as computers and smartphones.
If an employer and employee agree, they should specify the terms of remote work in a written format.
Thailand has adopted a so-called Work from Home Bill, the country’s first legislation governing remote work relationships between employers and employees.
The Work from Home (WFH) Bill
Officially, the Work from Home (WFH) Bill is an amendment to the Labor Protection Act B.E. 2541, one of Thailand’s central labor laws. The amendment offers a regulatory framework that clarifies the rights and obligations of both employers and employees engaged in remote work relationships.
Like in other countries worldwide, working from home became increasingly popular in Thailand since the COVID-19 pandemic, necessitating policymakers, employers, and workers to adapt accordingly. Thailand’s new WFH Bill does not significantly alter the conditions of WFH labor arrangements but does provide a useful framework to add greater clarity to the rights of remote workers.
Labor protections for remote workers
The amendment to the Labor Protection Act B.E. 2541 adds a new Section 23/1 that sets out the labor rights of remote workers. It is set to come into force after it receives royal assent.
According to the new section, employers may agree to allow the employee to perform work outside of business premises remotely using information technology, such as computers and smartphones. Such an agreement may be made for the benefit of employers (e.g. saving rent on office space), work-life balance for employees (e.g. saving on commuting time), or out of necessity (e.g. pandemic restrictions).
If an employer and employee agree, they should specify the terms of remote work in a written format, whether in a physical document or digitally. This agreement may contain elements that are similar to typical labor agreements, but specific to the conditions of remote work.
Such an agreement may provide the following information, among other details:
- Start and end dates;
- Expectations for normal working days and hours, as well as rest periods;
- Overtime and holiday work rules;
- Rules for different types of leave;
- The employee’s work responsibilities;
- The employer’s control and supervision policies; and
- Duties by the employer to provide work equipment and tools as well as payments for necessary work expenses.
Remote workers have the same rights as workers on business premises
Importantly, the amendment specifies that remote workers have the same rights as workers on business premises. As such, if an employer and an employee agree to a remote work agreement, the employee cannot be punished for working from home.
Another new addition is the introduction of Thailand’s first right-to-disconnect policy. According to the amendment, an employee has the right to disconnect – in other words, refuse or abstain from communications with their employer – after normal work hours or after completing the work they have been assigned. However, an employee may give their employer consent in writing to be contacted at such times.
ASEAN Briefing is produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The firm assists foreign investors throughout Asia and maintains offices throughout ASEAN, including in Singapore, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Da Nang in Vietnam.
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