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Govt targets hotels over SSO payments, not hiring

The Social Security Office has sued 10 hotels, accusing them of not paying social-security levies.

Meanwhile, the National Office for Empowerment of Persons with Disability (NEP) has accused some hotels of failing to hire handicapped people.

The SSO, a unit of the Labour Ministry, claimed that the operators of 10 hotels had avoided payment of social-security levies on service charges.

The office asked the hotels to pay up to Bt120 million for the 2011-12 period. Some of them, including The Twin Towers Hotel, Pathumwan Princess Hotel, and Montien Hotel Bangkok, are fighting the official body in court.

Supawan Tanomkieatipume, executive assistant manager of sales and marketing at The Twin Towers Hotel, said it was unfair for hotels to have to pay the social security charge as the service charge was paid monthly and varied depending on worker performance.

"Hotel staff who earn Bt9,000 or more [per month] normally pay tax to the government, but service charges should not be included in the social-security levy because payments vary. If all hotels pay this levy at the same rate, it could be very costly," she said.

Supawan, who is also vice president of the Thai Hotels Association (THA), urged the SSO to revise its enforcement of this levy to facilitate hotel operations. If it fails to do so, it could expect more cases to appear in court.

Negative impact

"Many other hotels also feel this law has a negative impact on business as well as on hotel staff," she said.

According to Supanit Vimooktanon, deputy managing director for operations and marketing at MBK Hotel and Tourism Co, which runs Pathumwan Princess Hotel, another government body - the NEP, under the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security - has also gone after some hotels, alleging that those unable to hire a quota of disabled people had failed to pay compensation of Bt9,000 per job per month.

The law states that each organisation is required to hire one disabled person for every 100 staff members and pay a minimum of Bt9,000 per job per month. For each job by which it falls short of that quota, the organisation is required to pay Bt9,000 to the NEP.

Supanit said the previous government enacted this law without talking to the private sector. The aim was to help people with handicap to find employment and gain work experience.

"However, many hotels have been unable to find handicapped person as they prefer to work at other jobs like lottery sellers, not for hotels," he said.

Earlier, the THA asked the Ministry of Tourism and Sports to help find people with disabilities to work in hotels, but received no response.

Supawan urged the government to relax this condition in order to help lower hotels' operating expenses, especially in the current tough situation.


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