With significant risk to both the economy and society, the Novel Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, necessitates safety measures to be implemented. These safety measures should be implemented across all spheres of society, with the purpose of containing the virus and preventing further spread. It is important for all employers to follow regulations and protect the health and safety of their employees. This notice discusses obligations and current measures being implemented by employers in response to the outbreak of the virus.
Employer Obligations in Thailand
In Thailand, a legal duty is placed on employers to ensure that employees have safe and hygienic working conditions. Employers are to ensure employees are protected from being at risk of harm to their life, body and health. If an employer fails to comply, it may constitute a criminal offence. As such, employers should monitor any notifications or regulations passed by the government in Thailand and ensure full compliance with the regulations.
Important Employment Measures
As a result of the outbreak of the Coronavirus, it is important for certain measures to be taken and implemented. Such measures should be followed to ensure the safety of employees and compliance with government regulation.
Rules regarding working from home
As per Thai regulation an employer can direct an employee to work from home, provided that the employee receives his/her full pay and benefits as per normal. The period that an employee works from should also contribute to their service length.
If an employee is directed or requested to stay at home, however he/she is unable to fulfil his/her obligations, due to the nature of the work, an employer should continue to pay that employee his/her full salary. By doing this, an employer creates a layer of protection against any dismissal or breach of contract claims that may arise.
Requesting an employee to take leave
According to regulation, an employer can direct an employee to take his/her annual leave. However, an employer is unable to unilaterally direct an employee to go on unpaid leave, unless the employee has agreed to this.
Current Restrictions on Travel
In Thailand it is permitted for an employer to impose travel restrictions on employees in order to comply with regulations on employee safety. As a result of the outbreak of the virus, many employers in Thailand have placed travel restrictions to mainland China, and some have placed an outright ban on travel to the Hubei province (where the outbreak started), in China.
Safety Measures Implemented
Many employers across Thailand have implemented various safety measures to ensure their employees have a safe and hygienic working environment such as; gathering recent travel and health information, regular temperature checks, providing masks and regular sanitization of the workplace.
Current Measures Applied
It is advised by the government that, if possible, employers should allow their employees to work from home in order to ensure safety of employees. If an employee is requested to work from home, he/she is still entitled to receive full pay. Employers can also request that employees take statutory leave, however as mentioned before, this may not be well received by an employee. Finally, an employer can request an employee to take unpaid leave, however, an employee’s consent is required to do so. Some employers have requested that employees work from home in order to ensure employee safety in accordance with regulation.