Basic Employment Laws
It is important for foreigners setting up a business in Thailand , managing one or working for
one to familiarise themselves with the Kingdom’s basic business laws.
Here are some of the key points to bear in mind. It would also be wise to keep a comprehensive
copy of employment laws at hand in the event a situation or dispute arises.
In general, the working day should not exceed 8 hours per day and should not exceed 48 hours
The exception to this is for those employees working in an environment that is prescribed by
Ministerial Regulations as being potentially harmful to their health or safety. These employees
should not exceed 7 hours work per day or more than 42 hours per week.
Employees must be given a rest period of at least one hour during their working day. It is
possible to divide this rest period throughout the day, but if so each break should not be less
than 20 minutes.
An exception to this rule is for those whose work necessitates the need for continuous
performance, or where such a stoppage adversely affects the operation, or such work is urgent.
In these cases, with the agreement of the employee, no rest period will be taken.
An employee is entitled to at least one day off per week. The interval between weekly holidays
shall be no longer than 6 days
The specific day for weekly holiday can be agreed in advance between the employee and
There are exceptions to this rule for those working in the hotel, transport, and forestry sectors
as well as those working in remote areas or other work prescribed in Ministerial Regulations. In
these instances, with an agreement between employer and employee, weekly holidays can be
accumulated and taken at a later time, but over no longer a period than 4 consecutive weeks.
An employee is entitled to not less than 13 days national holiday per annum and when a
national holiday falls on a weekend the following working day shall be granted as a holiday.
Basic pay shall be given for these holidays
Any employee who has worked continuously for 1 full year is entitled to an annual vacation of
not less than six working days. They are also entitled to full basic pay during this vacation.
Any employer can grant an annual vacation on a pro-rata basis for any employee who has
worked for less than one year.
An employee is allowed 30 working days per annum sick leave with full pay.
Pregnant female employees are entitled to no more than 90-days for each pregnancy. This
includes holidays during the maternity leave. Basic pay shall be given during this leave but will
not exceed 45 days.
Other types of leave:
There are laws relating to other types of leave such as sterilization leave, personal business
leave, training leave and military service leave. These all have clearly stated rules that the
employee must follow.
If an employee has their employment terminated through no fault of their own (downturn in
business, use of technology etc.) then they are eligible for severance pay at the most recent
rate of basic pay currently being received.
● At least 120 continuous days but less than 1 year: 30 days’ pay
● At least 1 year continuously but less than 3 years: 90 days’ pay
● At least 3 years continuously but less than 6 years: 180 days’ pay
● At least 6 years continuously but less than 10 years: 240 days’ pay
● More than 10 years of continuous employment: 300 days’ pay
An employer is within their rights to instantly dismiss an employee without notice or any
severance pay for a variety of reasons. These include:
● Dishonest performance of duty
● Intentionally committing a criminal act against the employer
● Intentionally causing the employer to suffer losses
● Performing an act of gross negligence that causes the employer to suffer severe losses
● Violating the employers lawful and just work rules or regulations
● Disregarding stated orders of the employer. This is generally after receiving one written
warning within a year period, but serious situations deem a written warning is not
● Is absent from their workplace for 3 consecutive days without justifiable reason whether
there is a holiday in between or not
● Is imprisoned by a final judgement from the law courts. If this is a petty offence or one
committed by negligence it must be one that causes the employer to suffer damages.
Laws should be adhered to:
It is important that both employer and employees understand the basic employment laws and
abide by them.
But, to use an analogy: A happy ship is an efficient ship.
Keep your employees happy, make it clear to everyone who is boss and treat colleagues as you
would expect to be treated.
By achieving this balance, it will surely produce a more productive working environment and
encourage everyone to go that extra mile for the good of the company.
There are fundamental laws relating to business practice in Thailand. These must be followed if
companies are to comply with governmental regulations currently in place.
We will begin with laws relating to female and child workers and then finish with statutory
requirements for companies who employ 10 or more staff.
All employers must be aware that it is prohibited from employing female staff in the following
● Work on scaffolding that is more than 10 metres from ground level
● The production or transportation of inflammable materials or explosives
● Mining or construction work that needs to be carried out underground, underwater, in
a cave, tunnel or crater of a mountain. The exception to this rule is where the work
required is not hazardous
● Additional tasks as prescribed under Ministerial Regulations
Female workers who are pregnant:
● An employer is not permitted to allow a pregnant female employee to work between
22.00 and 06.00 hours, to work overtime or to work on national holidays
● To work on Plant machinery or equipment that vibrates
● To operate or be a passenger on a mechanically propelled vehicle
● Pregnant employees must not be required to lift, carry or bear on their head or
shoulders, or to push or pull items that weigh more than 15 kilograms
● Be employed on water-going vessels
● Additional tasks as prescribed under Ministerial Regulations
An employer cannot terminate employment of a female on the grounds that she is pregnant.
● It is forbidden for any employer to give work to a child under the age of 15 years
● If an employer employs a child who is under the age of 18 years the employer must
notify the labour inspector of such employment within 15 days of the child’s starting
date and in the event of termination of a child’s employment the employer must notify
the labour inspector of this fact within 7 days of the termination date
● The employer must arrange for child employees to have uninterrupted rest periods each
day of no less than 1 hour during the first 4 hours of work and arrange for other
appropriate rest periods throughout the working day
● Unless permission has been granted by the Director-General an employer is prohibited
from making a child employee work between 22.00 and 06.00 hours
● A child employee is prohibited from working overtime or working on national holidays
● An employer is prohibited from giving the following types of employment to a child
employee (A comprehensive list of each point is available as per Ministerial
o Smelting, blowing, casting or rolling metal
o Stamping metal
o Any work involving adverse conditions such as extreme heat, cold, vibration, noise or
under abnormal lighting
o Working with hazardous chemicals
o Working with poisonous micro-organisms. This includes virus, bacteria, fungus or other
o Working with toxic materials, explosives or inflammable materials. The exception to this
rule is working at a Gasoline/Fuel station
o Driving or controlling hoists or cranes
o Working with electrical or mechanically operated saw’s
o Underground, underwater, cavern, tunnel or crater work on a mountain is prohibited
o Working with any radioactive material
o The cleaning of engines or machinery while such are still in operation
o Working on scaffolding that is more than 10 meres above ground level
o Additional tasks as prescribed under Ministerial Regulations
Child employees – Forbidden establishments:
An employer is prohibited from employing a child employee under the age of 18 from working
in the following establishments:
o Slaughter houses
o Gambling houses
o Dance Halls; these are classed as Thai-style dancing establishments
o Establishments where food, alcohol, tea and other beverages are served and where the
services of prostitutes, sleeping facilities or massage are on offer
o Additional establishments as prescribed by Ministerial Regulations
An employer is prohibited to pay remuneration of a child employee to any other person than
the child employee themselves.
An employer is prohibited from demanding or taking a deposit for any reason whatsoever from
a child employee.
A child employee has the right to leave their place of work to attend any events held by
educational institutes, or a government or private agency that is approved by the Director-
General. This includes such things as training, seminar or meeting sessions. During this absence, the employer is duty bound to pay the basic pay of the child employee in respect of leave of absence for up to 30 days per year.
Companies employing 10 or more employees
Any company employing 10 or more workers must have written rules in the Thai language.
Copies of these should be given to employees and placed in obvious areas of the working space for easy referral. A copy should also be submitted to the Director-General’s Department of Labour Protection and Welfare.
As a minimum, they should include details such as working hours and days, rest periods, holiday rules for national and annual leave, disciplinary laws, how to submit complaints, and the
termination of employment procedures that include details of severance pay.
Such companies are also requested to register and keep an updated list of all employee’s
personal details, their current address, date employment commenced, details of salary and any
overtime rates applicable as well as the date of employment termination where relevant. These
records should also be kept in the Thai language.
Adhere to the basic business laws:
It would be a good idea for one member of the management team to attend a seminar or take
it upon themselves to completely familiarise themselves with the basic business and
employment laws of the country.
By doing so the whole company structure will benefit. It will mean that any issues raised or
concerns voiced can quickly be explained to the letter of the law and appropriate action taken.