11 July 2024

Illegal migrant workers from Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia, and their dependents under 18 who are currently in Thailand,will be able to stay and work legally, with health coverage for up to two years, as a special case approved by the Thai cabinet on Tuesday.

The exemption from arrest and prosecution was proposed by the Ministry of Labour, as part of the effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, an outbreak of which was allegedly triggered by some infected illegal migrants from Myanmar working at the central shrimp market in Thailand’s coastal province of Samut Sakhon.

Illegal migrant workers, who are not yet employed, and their dependents under 18, will also be covered by this special arrangement, designed to encourage them to come forward instead of hiding, which will make it difficult for Thai health officials to contain the virus.

It is also intended to stop employers abandoning the illegal workers, in an effort to escape prosecution.

Under this arrangement, employers who have hired illegal migrants are required to bring their employees for registration with the authorities by February 13th.

Those who are unemployed are required to report to the Employment Department of the Labour Ministry, from January 15th to February 13th, for formal documentation.

Both unemployed and employed illegal migrants must be screened for COVID-19 and other diseases, as specified by the Public Health Ministry. Both groups will be given health coverage for two years.

Thai employers, who want to hire the unemployed who have gone through the registration and health screening process, can do so by applying to the Employment Department by September 2021.

Children of the migrant workers, who are at least 15 years of age, can work in Thailand if employers are willing to employ them and seek permission from the Employment Department on behalf of the under-age workers.