chevron-down Created with Sketch Beta.
August 30, 2023

Thailand: Teleworking Provision in the Labour Protection Act

Panthip Pruksacholavit

The teleworking provision, Article 23/1 of the Thai Labour Protection Act, came into force on April 18 of this year. The inclusion of this provision marks a significant milestone, as it represents the first recognition of this form of employment in Thai legislation. This provision comprises four paragraphs that primarily rely on the mutual agreement between employers and employees.

Conditions and Agreement for Teleworking: The first paragraph grants employers and employees the option to engage in teleworking if the nature and condition of their work permit such an arrangement. It acknowledges that certain roles and circumstances are conducive to remote work.

Written Agreement Requirement

The subsequent paragraph mandates that employers provide employees with a written agreement specifically for teleworking arrangements. The agreement must explicitly outline essential details, including working hours, rest periods, overtime regulations, holidays, leave entitlements, job description, scope of employer control and the employer's obligation to provide tools, materials and necessary expenses. While Thai employment law does not require written employment contracts in general, this provision emphasizes the need for written agreements to offer special protections to teleworking employees.

Right to Disconnect

In a groundbreaking move, the third paragraph introduces the concept of the right to disconnect into Thai law. It states that outside of working hours, employees have the right to refuse communication with their employer or supervisor through any means, unless they have explicitly waived this right in writing. It should be noted that some debate has arisen regarding whether this provision should exclusively apply to teleworking situations, leaving employees working on-site without the right to disconnect.

Equal Rights and Benefits

The final paragraph ensures that teleworking employees enjoy the same rights and benefits as their counterparts who work on-site. This provision seeks to prevent discrimination and exploitation, fostering a fair and equitable work environment for teleworkers.

In conclusion, the newly-introduced teleworking provision in the Thai Labour Protection Act aims to promote and facilitate telework arrangements. The legislation's primary objective is to ensure business continuity during emergencies, such as pandemics, while simultaneously enhancing the quality of employees' work-life balance and reducing traffic congestion and fuel consumption. Notably, the provision adopts a facilitative approach, allowing employers and employees to voluntarily agree on teleworking arrangements with minimal state intervention. Criminal sanctions are conspicuously absent from this provision, further highlighting its intent to encourage teleworking while maintaining a mutually beneficial employer-employee relationship.

Panthip Pruksacholavit

Associate Professor Chulalongkorn University Bangkok, Thailand

The material in all ABA publications is copyrighted and may be reprinted by permission only. Request reprint permission here.