Labour Protection Act Amended to Recognize Remote Work and Employee’s Right to Refuse Communication

On 19 March 2023, the Thai government announced Labour Protection Act (No. 8), 2023
(“the Amended Act”) to amend the Labour Protection Act, 1998 ("the LPA”). The Amended Act will take effect on 18 April 2023.

Keywords: Mazars, Thailand, Legal, Labour Protection Act, Remote Work, Work from home, Anywhere

7 April 2023

The Amended Act introduces a new provision to the LPA, Section 23/1, which governs employees working outside the employer’s workplace and explicitly recognizes the right of employees to refuse communication with the employer after working hours or after the assigned work has been completed.

The objective of the Amended Act is to improve the quality of life and work for employees, to benefit employers’ businesses, to alleviate traffic problems, and to reduce energy consumption.

Work-from-home / anywhere Arrangement

The Amended Act now explicitly acknowledges that employers and employees may reach an agreement on arrangements that allow employees to work from home or other accommodations, or from anywhere, electronically (“the Agreement”), provided that such work can be easily done outside the employer’s workplace, When making such an Agreement, the employer must provide a paper or electronic form to the employee. The Agreement must contain the following:

  1. The starting and ending date of the Agreement
  2. The normal working days and hours, break times, and overtime
  3. Rules on working overtime and on holidays, including types of leave
  4. The extent of the employee's work and the employer's control and supervision
  5. Obligations regarding the provision of tools or work equipment, including necessary expenses related to performing the work

The last paragraph of Section 23/1 explicitly states that an employee who works outside the workplace has the same rights as one who works in the workplace. The Amended Act does not list any specific sanctions or penalties for employers or employees who violate the Agreement.

Employees’ rights to refuse communication

In addition, Section 23/1 now entitles employees to refuse to communicate with employers, managers, supervisors, or inspectors after the agreed working hours or after the assigned work has been completed, unless such employees have given prior written consent to being contacted after such times. We note that, while Section 23 of the LPA allows the employer to unilaterally determine and announce working days and hours, the new provision in Section 23/1 of the Amended Act requires the employer and employee to reach an agreement on working days and hours for remote work for the period agreed on, and this agreement must be provided to the employee in paper or electronic form. In addition, as the part on employees refusing communication with employers outside of working hours also refers to this being “agreed” on rather than “announced” by the employer, it is our opinion that this right of refusal applies only to employees who work remotely, although the provision does not specify which employees are entitled to this right. There are no penalties imposed on employers who try to communicate with employees outside of working hours or after the assigned work has been completed. However, this provision ensures that employees cannot be considered negligent in regard to their work or in violation of their employer's lawful orders, which can lead to termination without severance pay under Section 119 of the LPA. It is crucial for employers to be aware of and comply with this new provision. The new provision offers greater flexibility to both employers and employees while safeguarding the rights and interests of both parties.