Whilst employers who choose to temporarily cease operations are required to continue paying at least 75% of their employees’ wages; the Social Security Office (“SSO”) has put additional measures in place to protect those employees further who are unable to work during this time. On 17 April 2020, Thailand’s Ministry of Labour published two new regulations, the Force Majeure Regulation and the Economic Crisis Regulation respectively.
The Force Majeure Regulation
The SSO has redefined force majeure under the Social Security Act (“SSA”) to include hazards from the COVID-19 pandemic, which impact employers and/or employees severely enough that the employer cannot operate its business normally and the employee is unable to work. This amendment to the SSA allows the SSO to compensate employees who:
Such eligible employees are only entitled to compensation from the SSO under the following circumstances:
Under the Force Majeure Regulation, employees are entitled to a rate of compensation of 62% of their daily wages during the Relevant Period, up to a maximum of 90 days.
The Economic Crisis Regulation
Employees who are insured under the SSA are entitled to receive benefits during periods of unemployment between 1 March 2020 and 28 February 2022 caused by the economic crisis, as follows:
In order to qualify under this regulation, the employee must be registered with the SSO and have contributed to the Social Security Fund for at least six months in the 15 months prior to the start date of the relevant unemployment period. From March until the end May 2020, employers and employees have also been taking advantage of the reduced rates of contribution to the Social Security Fund. For the purposes of calculating SSO compensation under both regulations, the maximum daily wage is capped at THB 15,000 per month.
In addition to the benefits available under the SSA as a result of COVID-19, many employers have also been negotiating terms separately with their employees to find ways of dealing with the impact of the pandemic.