March 25, 2020 SPECIAL COVID-19 ISSUE

THAILAND - Report

By: Professor Panthip Pruksacholavit, Chulalongkorn University Faculty of Law, Bangkok

The Thai government has ordered Bangkok and the surrounding provinces to temporarily shut down all venues considered high risks for spreading COVID-19 effective from March 22 to April 12. These venues include all shopping malls, cinemas, Thai traditional massage parlors, swimming pools, dine-in restaurants, beauty salons, gyms, sports centers, and boxing stadiums. Exceptions were made for supermarkets, pharmacies and food outlets offering take-out and delivery. During the closure, temporarily unemployed workers are not paid by employers. To provide financial assistance to these workers during this time, the Social Security Commission just approved grants to each worker equaling 50% of their regular wages for up to 60 days. The amount, however, shall not exceed 7,500THB/ month [U.S. $230] for each worker. In addition, other businesses which are not forced to shut down by the government may also temporarily close or reduce their number of workers during the outbreak without pay. These workers will receive Social Security benefits at the same rate for up to 180 days. Moreover, the Social Security Office also realized that the outbreak could heavily impact many businesses in the long term and that the unemployment rate would eventually go up. The Office, thus, increased the unemployment benefit due to dismissal from March 2020-March 2022. The rate increases from 50% for the first 180 days to 70% for 200 days.

Even though the Social Security Office recently passed a number of new provisions to assist workers who are unemployed because of the outbreak, the government has not yet provided any incentive for employers to pay employees while temporarily shut down. The law only requires employees who work from home to be fully paid, not those employees who are temporarily barred from work. Up until the present the Government’s measures have primarily sought to encourage people to work from home. Examples include partially subsidizing the cost of internet connectivity.

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Professor Panthip Pruksacholavit

Chulalongkorn University Faculty of Law, Bangkok