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NEW REGULATIONS ON MAIDS AND CHILD LABOUR FINALLY ANNOUNCED

The number of days is part of a new regulation under the Labour Protection Act 1998, Department of Welfare and Labour Protection (DWLP) chief Pakorn Amornchewin said yesterday.

The regulation, in effect since November 9, gave housemaids, excluding those at cleaning firms, seven additional rights. These are:

lat least one day off per week;

lat least 13 traditional holidays including Labour Day (and to take a day en lieu later if the holiday is the same day as the maid's weekly day off);

lmaids with over a year's service to get at least six days leave a year;

lit also allowed maids to have sick leave as needed (three in a row requires a medical certificate);

lemployers were also required to directly pay wages to maids under 18;

lemployers must also pay wages for maids who work on holidays;

land maids were entitled to up to 30 paid sick days.

Pakorn warned that employers who fail to pay holiday wages could face up to six months in jail and/or a fine up to Bt100,000, while those who fail to allow a day off each week or pay wages for maids on sick leave would face a Bt12,000 fine.

Bundit Paenwiset from the Friends of Women Foundation said he agreed with the seven extra welfare rights. But he wanted the government to push for maids to be protected directly by the Labour Protection Act rather than issuing a regulation one-by-one for them. That was because housemaids still had no bargaining power against their employers, while information on maids in Thailand remained unclear, so it was difficult to investigate problems.

He estimated there were about 200,000 migrant housemaids.

But the National Statistics Office reported that in June there were 4.42 million maids in Thailand.

Surapong Kongchantuk, from the Human Rights Committee of the Lawyers' Council, said that despite additional rights, maids still faced problems over low payment, the hours they work each day, plus errands on days off. So, Thailand could still be viewed as violating human rights and this could affect international trade and relations.

In related news, Labour Minister Phadermchai Sasomsab said on November 9 he signed the national committee's announcement to eradicate the worst forms of child labour, as per ratification by Thailand - on February 16, 2001 - of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) convention number 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour. The announcement prohibits minors under 18 doing dangerous jobs such as metal melting, ground drilling, or work that exposed them to hazardous chemicals or manufacturing explosive items, fireworks, as well as jobs in unsafe environments such as fishing boats, frozen food rooms, underground or in caves.




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