Recruiting Top Talent in Thailand

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Thai Top Talent

Finding and recruiting top talent in any overseas territory puts many potential obstacles in the way of companies making the move to build their international profile.

This applies to the Kingdom of Thailand – an increasingly attractive target for global expansion. Thailand’s location in south-east Asia has its main landmass flanked by Myanmar and Laos to the north and east with Cambodia to the southeast. Thailand’s peninsula stretches south to Malaysia, between the Andaman Sea to the west and Gulf of Thailand to the east.

At the crossroads of Asia, Thailand is a founder member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) formed in 1967. Apart from its immediate neighbours, Thailand is in prime position for international trade with Singapore, Indonesia, China, and India among a host of other Asian nations and into the Pacific Rim.

The Recruitment Process in Thailand

Thailand has become one of the prime targets for international investment. However, it is essential for foreign companies taking their first steps into Thailand’s economy to have a clear plan when it comes to recruitment.

The southeast Asian nation developed into a social and economic success story in the early 21st Century, growing from a low-income to an upper-middle income economy in little more than a generation. The service sector, driven by recovering domestic and international tourism, and industry are the leading areas for the economy and recruitment. Predicted growth sectors into 2022 include e-business, logistics, IT, and digital technology.

However, foreigners who are job-seeking in Thailand find the route complicated by government-applied restrictions under the Foreigners Working Management Decree. Listed restrictions include:

  • List 1:  Strictly prohibited occupations mainly concern traditional crafts, but also include brokerage or agency work; tour guide operations; clerical, secretarial and some legal work
  • List 2: Unless allowed by international agreements – includes auditing and accounting services; civil engineering projects; architectural work
  • List 3: Prohibited occupations apply to skilled or semi-skilled foreigners unless they are working for an employer. Apart from agriculture, this largely covers traditional crafts
  • List 4: Exceptions according to treaties with other nations

There are also restrictions on the number of foreigners who can be employed in relation to the number of Thais on the workforce.

Recruitment is the first stage of making your company operational and competitive in Thailand. These restrictions complicate moving staff into the country – in addition to the complexities of obtaining work permits and visas. To avoid these issues, it is vital to know where to locate the finest talent in Thailand to be the perfect fit for your company’s global expansion plans. Don’t wait … contact Bradford Jacobs for the solutions.

Legal Checks on Employees in Thailand

Scope: Thai law does not specifically authorize or prohibit pre-hire checks. Under the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA, 2019), which came into force in June 2021, employers are legally required to obtain a candidate’s written permission to collect any personal information. The law applies also to a third-party agency if the employer uses one to collect the information; employer and agency must have a data processing agreement in place that complies with the PDPA. An applicant’s refusal to agree to a specific background check cannot be given as a reason not to enter into an employment contract.

Criminal Records: These can be carried out with the applicant’s permission but are often dispensed with unless the role involves working with children or in finance. Such checks can be protracted if they involve several provincial jurisdictions.

Medical History or Examinations: As medical history comes under ‘personal information’ it can be requested only if relevant to the role, or for employee insurance reasons.

Educational Qualifications and References: Can be checked by employers with permission.

Credit History: Under the Credit Information Business Act, assessing an applicant for employment is not a justified reason for acquiring credit information. Employers are allowed to ask the applicant’s permission for such information.

Drugs Records/Tests: With permission, and only where strictly relevant to the position.

Required:  Checks that the applicant complies with all visa and work permit regulations

Basic Facts on Hiring in Thailand

The rights of employees and obligations of employers in Thailand are governed by a combination of the Employment Protection Act, the Employment Relations Act and the Civil and Commercial Code.

International companies hiring staff for expansion into Thailand must comply with a framework of employment and taxation regulations. Some are subject to mandatory laws and others vary according to rules applied by provincial jurisdictions – a major consideration as Thailand has 77 provinces.

  • The Employment Protection Act and the Civil and Commercial Code do not specify that a contract must be written, but it is advisable to put the key terms in writing as they form the working conditions
  • If the contract is in English, for example, there should be a Thai translation if the employee is local. The Thai-language contract will be used in any legal disputes
  • The Employment Protection Act says blue- and white-collar workers have the same protection under the law
  • Employment contracts are generally either open-ended and indefinite, or fixed term
  • Fixed-term contracts cannot include a probationary period and must specify an end date. If the end date is exceeded, it can be deemed to have become open-ended. Fixed-term contracts do not require an ‘advance notice’ of termination
  • Probation periods are permitted but usually do not exceed 119 days, as employees are entitled to severance pay once they have worked for 120 days

After hiring and onboarding, employers must be aware of other considerations. Minimum standards apply to such as sick leave, minimum wages set at provincial level, working hours, maternity allowances, paid vacations, termination, and severance, notice periods and social insurance payments. Other rules regulate workplace discrimination.