Workplace Issues & COVID-19 in Asia-Pacific: Thailand
Currently, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak has spread across the world and the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that COVID-19 could be characterized as a pandemic (WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic on 11 March 2020). People and outbound travellers are recommended to closely monitor the situation. Moreover, the public must fully cooperate and act as the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) recommends for your safety and for the safety of others, and to decrease the negative social and economic impacts.
The Thai government has announced Emergency Decree effectively from 00.01 of 26 March 2020 and subsequently announced certain restrictions and shut down various places throughout the country. Those restrictions include:
- Cancellation of Songkran Holiday 13-14-15 April;
- Closure of all pubs, nightclubs, entertainment places and social community areas until 30 April 2020, (restaurants allowed to stay open only for take away);
- Closure of all department stores and other stores except supermarkets and fresh markets;
- Closure of all universities, schools and educational establishments, including tutorial centres (local and international);
- Cancellation of all concerts and sport events, sport places and gyms all closed;
- Working from home is recommended or, alternatively, use rotating work practices for both public and private sectors; and
- AGM for all companies should be postponed or be convened via videoconference.
Right of employees
The Department of Labour Protection and Welfare (DoPPW) has clarified several issues involving the benefits and rights of employees affected by the outbreak of the COVID-19.
- Employees who are detained in quarantine for 14 days under the order of the MoPH as per the Communicable Disease Act BE 2558 are considered temporarily relieved of their obligation to work for the employer but the employer is also not obligated to pay the wage of absent employees, according to the principle of ‘no work, no pay’.
- In case the employees have symptoms such as fever and suspect an infection, they can stop coming to work for the period of 14 days and may be up until the they are fully recovered while continuing to get paid using sick leave as allowed by the labour law (30 days per year). However, if they have already used up their sick leave, they could also use their annual leave additional to those sick leave. The minimum number of annual leave as specified by the law is 6 days, but this can be a longer period as agreed between the employer and employees under the employment contracts or work rules.
- Those employees who are insured under Section 33 of the Social Security Act (those who are currently working under an employer), they will be entitled to 50 per cent of monthly pay, based on a maximum amount of Bt15,000 per month, when they take sick leave of more than 30 days, provided the 30 days of paid sick leave from the employer has already been used up, provided that:
- (a) the insured person must have contributed to the Social Security Fund for more than three months before taking the leave;
- (b) must produce a doctor’s certificate of sickness and show evidence of using 30 days paid sick leave from the employer;
- (c) This compensation will be paid at a maximum of 180 days per year for any diseases except chronic one, which will be paid at a maximum of 365 days per year.
- As for employees who are insured under Section 39 of the Social Security Act (those who used to work under an employer but have now unemployed and wish to preserve their insurer status by continuing to contribute to the fund), will be entitled to 50 per cent of their current wages, based on the maximum contribution of the insured person under Section 39 at THB 4,800 per month, when they take sick leave from their current job or as a business owner. Other requirements are similar to those of the insured under Section 33 except the evidence of using 30 days paid sick leave from employer.
- The benefits of Social Security will still take effect six months after the insured’s status ended, therefore if an employee takes sick leave within that period they will be entitled to the above-mentioned benefits
Those employees who just returned from countries announced as risk countries for COVID-19 or have symptoms similar to COVID-19 pneumonia, can get a free check-up at hospitals specified in their Social Security benefit list. However, if they don’t have the symptoms but want to check up to make sure they do not have it, they will have to be responsible themselves for the costs.