Protection for Homeworkers in Thailand

Thai shoemakerHomeNet Thailand and its supportive partners, including WIEGO, played an essential role in winning legislative protection for home-based workers.

Since 2003, Home Net Thailand and the Foundation for Labour and Employment Promotion (FLEP) have campaigned, with the support of the International Labour Organization (ILO), HomeNet Southeast Asia, and the Federatie Nederlandse Vakbeweging (FNV, or the Federation of Dutch Labour), for the Thai government to ratify a homeworkers protection bill. In 2004, the Ministry of Labour had put in place a Ministerial Regulation on Protection of Homeworkers. The regulation had limitations, however, and did not address some issues such as unfair wages and inability to access social security systems. HomeNet Thailand, with the support of partners, has waged continuous campaigns calling for the Ministry of Labour to protect the fundamental rights of workers. In 2009 the Thai Parliament approved in principle (by 268 votes to 0) a Homeworkers Protection bill.

In September 2010, Parliament ratified the Homeworkers Protection Act B.E.2553, which came into effect in May 2011. This law provides for protection of wages – including equal pay for men and women doing the same job – occupational health and safety, responsibility of employers toward homeworkers. It also establishes a Committee for the Protection of Homeworkers on which both men and women will serve, ensuring women have a role in decision making.

This legislation could impact as many as 2 million workers in Thailand.Thai stonecarver

To ensure homeworkers knew of their new rights, Homenet Thailand, in collaboration with the Formal Sector Group and Health Promotion Foundation, organized public seminars to discuss the contents of the law. They had the Act translated into English and disseminated through the website and newsletters. In addition, 3,000 booklets were published to get this vital information to homeworkers in various regions, and training offered on the law in the North and South.

The challenge now is to ensure effective enforcement, which requires regular follow up, support and close work with the Ministry of Labour.