Over 700 foreigners prosecuted for occupying jobs reserved for Thais

File photo

A crackdown has been launched on foreigners working illegally in Thailand.

The Thai government has reported that over 700 foreigners have been found illegally occupying jobs that are legally reserved exclusively for Thai nationals.

The announcement comes as part of the Department of Employment’s concerted efforts to protect local labor markets and ensure employment opportunities for Thai citizens.

Mr Kharom Polpornklang, the Deputy Spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office, highlighted concerns over a noticeable influx of foreign nationals from countries including Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Russia, and India.

These individuals were found engaging in a variety of occupations reserved for Thai nationals, such as street vending, barbering, driving public transport, and roles within the health and wellness sectors.

Such activities have predominantly been observed in tourist-frequented provinces and commercial districts, raising alarms about the impact on local business owners.

Mr Kharom Polpornklang. File photo

The Ministry of Labor’s Department of Employment has intensified its surveillance and enforcement actions. These initiatives include unscheduled inspections of establishments employing foreign workers across the country.

The recent operation led to the inspection of 25,628 businesses, resulting in 820 prosecutions. Additionally, 306,577 foreign workers were scrutinized, culminating in the prosecution of 1,689 individuals. A breakdown by nationality showed a significant proportion coming from neighboring countries, with the majority hailing from Myanmar, followed by Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and a mixture of other nationalities.

The statistics released by the Department of Employment, spanning from October 1, 2022, to March 18, 2023, revealed a targeted approach towards mitigating unauthorized employment among foreign nationals. Specifically, 721 cases were directly related to foreigners occupying positions that are reserved for Thais. The most commonly encroached professions included street vending, hairdressing, vehicle operation, and massage services. Moreover, foreign workers were also prosecuted for non-compliance in jobs like storefront sales, construction, and manual labor.

The government’s crackdown has been particularly focused on major provinces such as Bangkok, Phuket, Samui, Pattaya, and Chiang Mai. These regions are not only vital to Thailand’s economy but also house significant populations of both Thai and foreign workers.

Recent weeks have seen a notable increase in the arrests of foreigners working illegally in Thailand, particularly in popular tourist destinations such as Phuket, Koh Phangan, and Koh Samui. Amid these enforcement actions, Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul issued a stern warning to foreigners residing in Thailand, advising them to comply with the country’s laws or face the revocation of their visas.

Furthermore, police authorities have expressed considerations for implementing a blacklist or revoking the visas of foreigners found violating laws in Phuket, signifying a stringent approach towards maintaining legal employment practices within the nation.