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Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Knocked up....now what? Maternity and Paternity Leave in Thailand

So I assume you are reading this post because you are pregnant and working in Thailand. 

Hmmmm, you are not going to like the next bit.

Expectants mothers are protected by law here (Labour Protection Act 1998), BUT we only get 90 days leave per pregnancy, and only 45 days of that is on full pay, the other 45 days is on the Social Welfare Fund, oh and that allowance includes weekends and any public holidays.

It sucks, and if at all possible it pays to plan your pregnancy when the public holidays are light, so for example in 2017 try to pop your little one out in Feb/March or June/July or Sept/Oct (www.timeanddate.com/holidays/thailand) Don't be like me and find yourself heavily pregnant in the hottest month of the year, and have the longest National Holiday in the middle of what would be ideal maternity leave. Such is life and if this pregnancy journey has taught me anything it is to "roll with the punches".

The most pertinent things to know before you speak to your boss in Thailand is:
  • 90 days of maternity leave including any holidays in that period
  • 45 days Full Pay from the employer
  • 45 days from the Social Welfare Fund (if you have paid contributions to the Social Welfare Fund for at least 7 months prior to the pregnancy*)
  • With a doctor's certificate, a temporary change of duties either before and/or after the child's birth is allowed
  • Protection from termination of employment due to pregnancy
  • Employers are not required to provide medical benefits for pre-natal and post-natal care and childbirth, childcare provisions or breaks for breastfeeding

* Note that applications are made in Thai. Please also note that the current rate is THB13,000 per pregnancy and requires a lot of paperwork. The process includes verifying that birth certificates and surnames match identically to the parent claiming the benefit, if they do not match then new birth certificates must be issued. Personally we never got round to unifying our surnames post marriage, because of the headache this causes with work permits and visas, so I decided to forgo my THB13,000 in view of an easier life!

For more information here is the website for the Department of Employment - good luck though because the english translation button doesn't seem to work!

BUT THERE IS SOME HOPE....

I was recently told by a friend that her company had agreed to a Thai employee taking 6 months maternity leave, although I do not know what the payment schedule was for this, and they also agreed to flexible working hours when the mother returned to work. 

The company in question is international, but the HR Director was Thai, they recognised the importance of some flexibility and encouraging good behaviours from their loyal staff. 

However, it is worth remembering that often these side agreements do not stand the test of time if forcibly requested by other members of staff, or if management changes, so try to document everything and keep all correspondence. 

You may find Thai people unwilling to go into print on some matters, preferring it to be a friendly verbal understanding, in these instances I find that an email "confirming our conversation" can be useful to have on file, as they often will not respond and at least you have peace of mind of some correspondence.

But what about dads???? 

Technically only female employees are entitled for such leave upon the birth of a child. However, there are some encouraging signs for dads.

In 2012 the Ministry of Labour made an announcement stating that State Officials could take upto 15 days paid paternity leave, within the first 30 days of a child birth - The Nation.

The Ministry also requested collaboration from employers to allow male employees to take paternity leave.  

The announcement is not treated as law however and in my experience paternity leave, in the truest sense is rare. Most dads decide to use holiday allowance and flexible working hours to provide them with some time in the early days. 

Getting into the Nitty Gritty

Getting into the nitty gritty, in case you are interested, or need this to explain to an employer, the details of the Labour Protection Act 1998 include:

“Leave” means a day on which an Employee takes sick leave, leave for steilisation, leave for necessary business, leave for military service, leave for training or knowledge and skill development or maternity leave
Section 32. An Employee is entitled to sick leave as long as he or she is actually sick. For sick leave of three days or more, the Employer may require the Employee to produce a certificate from a frst class physician or an offcial medical establishment. If the Employee is unable to produce a certifcate from a frst class physician or an offcial medical establishment, the Employee shall give an explanation to the Employer. If a physician is provided by the Employer, this physician shall issue the certificate except where the Employee is unable to be examined by the physician. A day on which an Employee is unable to work on account of injury or illness arising out of employment or on maternity leave under Section 41 shall not be regarded as sick leave under this Section.

Chapter 3 provides guidance specifically for the employment of women: 
Section 38. An Employer shall be prohibited to require a female Employee to perform any of the following work:
(1) mining or construction work to be performed underground, underwater, in a cave, in a tunnel or mountain shaft, except where the conditions of work are not harmful to health or body of the Employee;
(2) working on a scaffold of ten metres or more above the ground;
(3) producing or transporting of explosive or infammable materials, except where the conditions of work are not harmful to health or body of the Employee;
(4) any other work as prescribed in the Ministerial Regulations. 
Section 39. An Employer shall be prohibited to require a female Employee who is pregnant to perform any of the following work:
(1) work involving vibrating machinery or engine;
(2) work of driving or going on a vehicle;
(3) work of lifting, carrying on the back, carrying on shoulder, carrying with a pole across shoulder, carrying on a head, pulling or pushing of loads in excess of fifteen kilograms;
(4) work on a boat; or
(5) any other work as prescribed in the Ministerial Regulations. 
Section 39/1 An Employer shall be prohibited to require a female employee who is pregnant to work between 10.00 p.m. and 06.00 a.m., to work overtime or to work on holidays. Where the female employee who is pregnant works in an executive position, academic work, clerical work or work relating to fnance or accounting, the Employer may require the employee to work overtime in the working days as long as there is no effect on the health of pregnant employee and with prior consent of the pregnant employee on each occasion. 
Section 40. Whereas an Employer require a female Employee to work between 24.00 hours and 6.00 hours and the Labour Inspector is of the opinion that the work may be hazardous to her health and safety, the Labour Inspector shall report it to the Director-General or a person entrusted by the Director-General for consideration, and shall order the Employer to change or reduce the female Employee’s working hours, as inspector deems appropriate, and the Employer shall comply with such order. 
Section 41. A female Employee who is pregnant shall be entitled to maternity leave of not more than ninety days for each pregnancy. Any Leave taken under paragraph one shall include Holidays during the period of Leave. 
Section 42. Whereas a female Employee who is pregnant presents a certifcate from a first class physician certifying that she is unable to continue in her previous duties, the Employee shall be entitled to request the Employer to temporarily change her duties before or after delivery, and the Employer shall consider changing her duties to suitable work for such an Employee.

Section 43. An Employer shall not terminate the employment of a female Employee on the grounds of her pregnancy.  
Section 59. An Employer shall pay Wages to a female Employee for maternity leave equivalent to Wages of a Working Day throughout the Leave period, but not exceeding forty five days per year.
Section 38, was amended by the Labour Protection Act.(No.2) B.E. 2551 /  Section 39, was amended by the Labour Protection Act.(No.2) B.E. 2551 / Section 39/1, was added by the Labour Protection Act.(No.2) B.E. 2551 
Please note that any translations or interpretations of any applicable laws or guidelines should not be wholly relied upon and should be verified by an appropriate Lawyer or professional.


Good luck and I hope your conversations with your employers go well!

One Messy Mama

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