Thailand to Give Temporary Work Permits to Undocumented Migrants Amid New COVID-19 Outbreak

The Thai Cabinet approved a resolution on Dec. 29 to legalize undocumented migrant workers from three Southeast Asian countries for two years as an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The Thai Cabinet approved a resolution on Dec. 29 to legalize undocumented migrant workers from three Southeast Asian countries for two years as an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19.

According to the resolution, undocumented migrant workers from Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar have to sign up online from Jan. 15 to Feb. 13 with the Ministry of Labor and be registered by an employer by September to receive the two-year work permit.

The announcement came amid a huge outbreak of over 1,500 cases since mid-December  at the biggest seafood market in central Samut Sakhon province. Most of the cases were among workers from Myanmar.

“Because the new wave of COVID involved mostly foreign workers and because the government investigated them to see how many were illegal, some employers got afraid and moved or abandoned their migrant employees. This widened the spread of the virus after the recent outbreak,” Deputy Government Spokeswoman Trisulee Traisoranakul said at a weekly press conference.

“Therefore, as a special case, the cabinet authorized the ministries of labor and interior to issue acts that would allow workers from Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar to work legally,” Traisoranakul further said.

The migrant workers will also have to enroll in a two-year health plan that would cost about 7,200 baht (US$240), Traisoranakul said.

According to the resolution, after the registration period, authorities should “check, crack down on, arrest, and prosecute” undocumented workers.

According to government data, Thailand recorded 115 new cases on Dec. 29, bringing the total number of cases nationwide to 6,440, in which 1,381 cases are among migrant workers.


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