Amendment to the Labour Protection Act to Include Work From Home
After long anticipation that the Government would issue work-from-home law, Thai parliament has recently passed the Labour Protection Act (No. 8) BE 2566 (2023), on 28 December 2022, to amend the Labour Protection Act BE 2541 (1998) (the “LPA”) to include the issue thereof (work from home describes work being done remotely, instead of at the employer’s establishment or premises).
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, like most other countries, employees in Thailand usually worked at the employer’s premises and, thus the provisions of the LPA were originally drafted and designed in conformity with such common practice at the time. However, during said pandemic, many employees worked from home and, although the pandemic has ended in Thailand and employees have returned to work at the employer’s premises, nevertheless the new hybrid work model is still popular in Thailand; whereby the employee works both from home and at the employer’s premises. Some employers have even chosen to implement 100% work from home scheme. This has raised some concerns that the employee’s rights are not well protected by such increasing trend.
The amendment to the LPA is intended to give a clear direction on how to deal with labour issues arising from working from home. The unofficial English translation of the proposed Section 23/1 of the LPA reads in essence as follows:
“For the benefit of the employer’s business operation and to promote quality of life and work performance of the employee, or in the case where it is necessary, the employer and the employee may agree that the employee can bring the work in the course of employment or that which is agreed with the employer — having the nature or description whereby the employee may perform it conveniently outside the employer’s establishment or premises — to perform it at his/her home or residence, or agree that the employer may perform the work through use of information technology from elsewhere remotely.
Regarding the agreement in paragraph 1 above, the employer must make it in writing or electronically, which is accessible and retrievable without causing any change to its content, and may include the following particulars:
(1) Commencement and end of the term of agreement;
(2) Normal working days and hours, rest periods and overtime work;
(3) Criteria for overtime work, holiday work and leave;
(4) Scope of employee’s responsibility and employer’s control or supervision; and
(5) Responsibility for arranging work supplies and equipment, including other necessary expenses arising from the work.
Once the normal working hours as agreed by the employer and the employee have ended or the work assigned by the employer has been completed, the employee has a right to refuse contact and communication from the employer, superior, supervisor or inspector in any way, unless the employer gives his/her prior consent (to be contacted outside of working hours) in writing.
The employee working from home or, or working via information technology from elsewhere remotely has the same right as the employees working at the employer’s establishment/premises.”
Regarding the above, there are several noteworthy points concerning working from home under this new provision of the LPA:
1) It is now clear that working from home is recognised under Thai labour law; however, the details thereof depend on an agreement between the employer and the employee. Other matters that previously caused confusion to the employer, such as overtime work, expenses, scope of responsibilities and supervision are subject to agreement and should be clearly agreed and included in the relevant agreement.
2) Work from home expenses or allowances are subject to an agreement between the employer and the employee. The employer is therefore not legally obliged to pay the employee’s electricity or internet bill when they are working from home.
3) After the amendment has come into force, it is important that the employer must not contact the employee outside working hours because the employee has the ‘right to be disconnected’.
4) Despite this development, the amendment of the LPA however does not include any punishment for the employer violating this new Section 23/1 of the LPA.
As to when Section 23/1 of the LPA will become effective, we must wait for it to be published in the Royal Gazette. Furthermore, the Ministry of Labour is expected to issue guidelines in order to provide further clarification on the compliance therewith.
This Newsletter is intended merely to provide a regulatory overview and is not intended to be comprehensive; it is NOT a provision of legal advice. Should you have any questions on this or on any other areas of law, please do not hesitate to contact the following: