Foreigners as of July 1 will be permitted to work in 12 professions previously reserved for Thais, though 28 other kinds of jobs remain off limits, including traditional Thai-style massage.
An updated list of occupations reserved for Thais was announced on Thursday, the number dropping from 39 on the list used since 1979.
Labour Minister Pol General Adul Sangsingkeo said the list would be publicised in the interim and transgressors would be treated with leniency. After July 1, officials would arrest violators, he said.
The 12 professions to be opened to foreigners include manual labour, as defined by the Employment Department, and 11 others for which foreigners can be hired “as necessary”, with the condition that they can only be employees, not business owners or working independently.
The 11 others are agriculture, including animal husbandry, forestry, fisheries and other non-expert jobs; bricklaying, carpentry and other construction work; and making mattresses, quilt blankets, knives, shoes, hats, dresses, pottery and ceramic ware.
Foreigners with professional licences recognised in Thailand will also be able to work in civil engineering, architecture and accountancy. Adul explained that these three occupations were being opened to foreigners as required by an Association of Southeast Asian Nations agreement on free labour migration.
The 28 professions reserved for Thais include 16 that involve “Thai wisdom” and “Thai characteristics”.
These are woodcarving; weaving cloth by hand; weaving mats and utensils from reeds, rattan, hemp, straw and bamboo pellicle; making mulberry paper and silk products by hand; making lacquerware, nielloware, Thai musical instruments, traditional Thai dolls, gold ornaments, silverware, bronzeware, alms bowls, cloth umbrellas and Buddha images; typesetting in Thai characters; and silk reeling and twisting by hand.
The other 12 reserved jobs are driving commercial vehicles on local routes (other than piloting international aircraft); staffing shops and other retail outlets; auctioneering; cutting and polishing diamonds and other precious stones; hairdressing and beauty care; local brokering; rolling cigarettes by hand; guiding tours; street vending; clerical and secretarial work; legal services work; and Thai massage.
Adul assured shop owners they would still be able to hire foreign staff, but only for general chores such as handing goods to customers and handling inventory - not handling payments or giving change money to customers.
Foreigners will only be allowed to drive vehicles on the grounds of their places of employment, he said.