Thailand: Important Labor Law Changes Forthcoming

The Thai government has implemented a new labor law which brings important changes to rules affecting foreign workers. The key changes include: • A Work Permit exemption for certain activities; • A new rule allowing an in-country extension of Urgent Work Permits; • New government notification requirements; and • Reduced fines for violating immigration rules for employers and foreign workers.

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The situation

The Thai government has implemented a new labor affecting foreign employees and their employers. The key changes are discussed below.

A closer look

  • Work Permit exemption. Foreign nationals who enter Thailand to perform the following activities may no longer need to obtain work authorization once the related regulation is implemented:
    • Organizing, setting up, participating, giving an opinion about, conducting lectures in, training or demonstration in the context of a conference or seminar; or work for artistic, cultural, sports or other purposes as designated by the Department of Labour.
      • Impact.  Once the regulation is in effect, foreign nationals may conduct such activities without a work permit, subject to the conditions applicable to qualify for the exemption. Eligible foreign nationals will be able to work upon arrival in Thailand, and their employers will save costs associated with obtaining a work permit.  
  • Urgent Work Permit (UWP) extension. Once the regulation regarding this rule is implemented, foreign nationals conducting urgent work in Thailand may be allowed extend their stay once in Thailand, for another 15 calendar days, if their work has not been completed in the initial allowable 15-day period.
    • Impact. Once in effect, foreign nationals may be able to stay longer under a UWP, if needed, since they will no longer need to exit the country and reenter to apply for a new UWP. Employers of UWP holders may benefit from reduced travel and immigration-related expenses.  
  • New government notification requirements. Employers and employees will be subject to new government notification requirements immediately for applications filed at the One Stop Service Center.
    • Impact. This requirement puts an additional procedural burden on both the employer and employee. Both should ensure compliance with the rule to avoid fines.  
  • Reduced fines. The government will reduce the steep penalties announced in June 2017, which were subsequently suspended due to public outcry and the mass exit of affected workers. These changes will take effect on July 1, 2018.
    • Impact. Despite this reduction in penalties, employers should continue to ensure compliance with the law and foreign nationals should ensure that their work activities are in line with what was authorized in their Work Permit.  

Further details on the above and other changes and impacts are discussed here.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to

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