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Thailand 6 min

Employee benefits in Thailand: All you need to know

Written by
Bruce Gilbert

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Hiring managers will find the Thai market has exceptional employment opportunities. With a population of over 70 million, Thailand has a huge base of skilled workers in so many different sectors who are starting to seek out more globally connected roles to progress their careers.

If you’re considering hiring Thai nationals, you’ll need to develop a compliant and competitive benefits and compensation package to give your company the best chance of attracting top talent. 

But how do you ensure your offers to Thai employees include a strong benefits package

There’s a significant list of statutory benefits you must provide according to Thailand’s employment legislation. We’ve also pulled together a collection of additional perks that will incentivise Thai workers to favor your offer over that of a competitor..

In this guide to managing benefits and compensation in Thailand, we’ll explain:

  • How to classify workers correctly to determine who is entitled to what benefits in Thailand
  • The statutory benefits you’re obligated to provide by law
  • Additional benefits that’ll help you attract the best talent
  • How to calculate competitive compensation for Thai and other global candidates
  • When and why you need to start using an employer of record

Who is entitled to benefits in Thailand?

Thai labor laws apply to both foreign and local employees. However, work permit and work visa requirements only apply to foreign nationals.

With Thai regulations, foreign nationals cannot perform work or provide any services in Thailand without a work permit. 

Mandatory employee benefits in Thailand include the following: 

  • Life-death coverage
  • Disability 
  • Medical treatment (health insurance)
  • Maternity benefits
  • Old age benefits
  • Child allowance
  • Workman's compensation

According to Thai law, a temporary worker working under a fixed-term employment contract has the same benefits and rights as a permanent employee, with a few exceptions around termination entitlements. 

In contrast to this, permanent employment contracts require an employer to pay the employee regularly—for example, monthly, daily, or hourly. 

The Thai labor and employment law does not extend to nationals working abroad unless an employer chooses to have an employment contract for the employee working abroad under Thai law. 

It’s important to understand this delineation. With the exception of social security contributions, the majority of benefits stated in Thai legislation only apply to full-time employees.

Regardless of whether you view a worker as an employee or a contractor, legislators will make the only determination that matters. If you’re found to have an employee relationship and you’ve neglected to provide statutory benefits, you’ll open your company up to the serious risks of misclassification and subsequent fines or penalties.

For more detailed information about understanding this concept, be sure to read our dedicated guide to misclassification.

Statutory and common employee benefits in Thailand

Statutory benefits must be offered to all employees as per Thai legislation. Failure to comply with these obligations may result in serious consequences for companies hiring Thai workers, so you need to ensure you have a robust process to keep up with any developments or changes in local labor laws.

Leave entitlements

Thai employees can have at least 15 paid holiday days per year. They are also entitled to six day of additional annual leave when they complete one year of service. 

The employee must be afforded one day off per week, and each day off cannot be more than six days apart. This does not apply to some jobs where the employer and the employee can agree on a contract for weekly accumulated holidays.

Thailand also has 16 national holidays. Annual leave provisions do not include these national holidays.

Sick leave

Employees are entitled to 30 days of paid sick leave every year. The employer can also ask the employee to provide a medical certificate after a period of three days.

The employees are entitled to get paid for sick leaves of only 30 days a year, and additional sick leaves are unpaid. However, the employer can agree with the employee whether they offer to pay for the excess days of sick leave.

Maternity and paternity leave

An expecting mother is entitled to a paid leave of about 98 days, inclusive of holidays, including prenatal care. 

The employer or the hiring agency must provide equal pay to the mother for up to 45 days of the leave. If an employee is insured under the Thai Social Security Fund, they must receive additional maternity benefits such as a sum of payment on the birth of their child.

They must also receive a cash benefit of 50% of their wages for the 98 days of leave. 

Male government employees are entitled to 15 days of paternity leave. However, there are unfortunately no paternity rights under the Labour Protection Act BE 2541 (1998) for male Thai employees. 

Note that forward-thinking global companies can offer their own paternity leave entitlements as a demonstration of care for Thai employees. We strongly encourage the development of generous and equitable parental leave entitlements in a global context to help employers develop stronger trust and connection with their team members.

Minimum wage

In Thailand, the minimum wage changes in different provinces. However, the National Wage Committee of Thailand also legislates a standard absolute minimum wage that provinces use as a baseline. 

Thai law also states that the employer must pay the wages to the employee in the workplace unless the employee gives written consent to be paid by other methods. 

As an employer, you may negotiate a salary with the employee directly, and remote strongly encourages the development of globally competitive and equitable compensation packages 

Working hours

The Ministry of Labour in Thailand regulates working hours according to the nature of the job and working conditions. The employer must notify the employee about the expected working hours of the position in the employment agreement.

A written contract must be signed before onboarding the employee. The contract must have the work commencement and stipulated end times for each working day. 

The working time must not exceed eight hours a day. You can extend it to nine hours by agreement. However, the total working hours per week must not exceed 48 hours a week.

Various work categories also have different working hours, and for example, if the work is hazardous for health, the working hours must not be more than 42 hours a week. 

Pension plans and insurance

Thailand has a social security fund and workers' compensation which entitles employees to medical insurance that covers injuries, death, and illness. 

Employees, their legal spouse, and dependent children are eligible for surgical and hospitalization benefits. In addition, the Health Plan Policy covers dental insurance of THB3000 per year.

This is an important consideration for global companies considering making an offer to a Thai candidate. 

Rather than offering basic health insurance coverage to Thai workers, employers could re-invest the cost of this benefit into other alternatives that will have a much higher perceived value to a Thai national.

Besides this, the Company Policy Social Security Fund requires employers to set up a provident fund scheme for permanent employees. 

This is a key consideration for any company new to hiring in Thailand.

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Why employee classification is critical in Thailand

It’s important to understand what category a worker whose services you’re employing falls into in order to avoid the risks of misclassification and any subsequent fines or penalties.

If an employer is found to have misclassified an employee as an independent contractor, that employee has the right to file a claim demanding their entitlements according to Thai labor law. 

Regardless of how you consider the worker, if the work carried out constitutes an employee relationship – the employee can file a demand for severance pay, payment instead of advance notice, encashment of mandatory minimum holidays, etc. 

If the state finds an employer in non-compliance, they are bound to pay the required penalties. For example, failure to register an employee with social security coverage can result in six-month imprisonment and a fine of THB20,000. 

If the non-compliance persists, the employer is bound to pay a fine of THB5,000 daily. 

These hefty penalties are just one element of the potential challenges you may encounter without correct interpretation of local classification rules and underline the importance of developing local legal and HR expertise when you hire in Thailand. Multiple options are available to help you maintain compliance, but an employer of record can provide you with the support you need without significant administrative, financial, or logistical burden.

For more detailed information on minimizing misclassification risk, make sure you read our employee and independent contractor misclassification guide prepared by Remote’s internal global HR experts.

Additional benefits to consider for Thai employees

Mandatory benefits are non-negotiable, and you have to comply with the rules and regulations to provide the employees with these rights. But, if you want to attract the best quality candidates, additional benefits will help to separate your offer from that of a competitor.

Our team of Southeast Asian HR experts has collected a short list of some of the most common and highly-valued supplementary benefits that you could consider.

Life insurance

You could consider offering stronger insurance options to supplement the mandatory coverage. Dental, optical, or premium levels of health insurance coverage will be welcome by Thai employees.

Thai culture is strongly based around the family. Most locals are motivated by the ability to provide for, support, and give back to their loved ones. That’s why additional insurance coverage will always be valued in Thailand.

Life insurance will be a highly prized option. Group insurance plans are renewable on a one-year term. In addition, employers can bolster basic plans with optional insurance for accidental death and permanent disability. 

Most group life insurance plans in Thailand offer 12 to 48 times the monthly salary. A group life insurance policy shall cover the causes of death of the insured employee. The company provides a lump sum that is payable on the insured person's death. 

Wellness benefits

Health and wellbeing benefits will open access to the top echelon of skilled professionals in Thailand who are actively looking for businesses that genuinely care about delivering a work-life balance.

Our soft benefits guide outlines a number of relatively inexpensive but highly valued perks you can consider including:

  • gym of health club memberships 
  • personal learning and development budget
  • therapy or coaching allowance 
  • mentorship programs
  • volunteering days
  • flexible working hours

Offering these benefits demonstrates your commitment to your team, and gives you an edge in a global labor market where you’re not just competing with Thai, Chinese, and Singaporean companies in neighboring Southeast Asia  – you’re competing with employers from all corners of the globe.

Our small business benefits guide will help with suggestions about cost-effective benefits that your remote employees are going to love — without eating into your bottom line.

In a global labor market, doing the bare minimum for your employees just won’t cut it any longer. Remote can help you get proactive with your benefits program for your global team so you can hire and retain the best of the best from Thailand and abroad.

Flexible scheduling

Mandatory benefits in Thailand stipulate maximum hours that can be worked per week. However, the Thai culture doesn’t fit perfectly into the traditional Western norm of 9 to 5. 

Offering your remote employees the flexibility to structure their work hours according to their comfort costs you nothing. But this benefit will afford Thai workers to spend time with their families at times that suit their lifestyle.  

Benefits like this build stronger trust between you and your employees, establishing a strong foundation for a long-term connection and lasting loyalty.

Home office 

Employers can develop loyalty with remote workers with small but intentional gestures that ensure the comfort of your employees. For example, you can offer employees an allowance to purchase comfortable and ergonomic office chairs, more functional equipment, a new timber desk, or even just a quality set of over-ear bluetooth headphones.

Creating a competitive and compliant compensation package

In a global labor market, doing the bare minimum for your employees will deliver a mediocre result at best. You’ll likely face recruitment and retention challenges as employees and candidates seek more supportive workplace cultures. You need a strategy that’ll help you offer a strong benefits package to attract top talent.  

Yet, regardless of how many additional perks you offer, you’ll struggle to attract top-quality global talent if your offer doesn’t include an internationally competitive salary.

Remote strongly advocates the development of a global benchmarking system to pay your employees a salary that competes with the global industry average wherever you’re hiring. This strategy will enable you to find, and critically, keep top quality talent. Remote’s guide to calculating global compensation gives you a number of mechanisms you could use to consistently create competitive offers.

link to [Webinar Recording] Managing a global benefits plan
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[Webinar Recording] Managing a global benefits plan

In this one-hour webinar, you’ll get a crash course on all things global benefits, as well as a lively Q&A with real questions from business owners hiring around the world.

How to set up and manage benefits for international employees

If you don’t own a local legal entity in Thailand, maintaining compliance while hiring here can become a real challenge. The options for managing HR in an international environment come with their own pros and cons:

  • Creating an owned entity from scratch is cost and time prohibitive for all but the largest global corporations
  • Partnering with individual local legal, HR, and payroll providers can work nicely in one country, but this option can become difficult to scale
  • A global employer of record can set you up with a foundation to scale international hiring, with local and global employment experts in multiple markets

An employer of record (EOR) like Remote will take on the responsibility of all of the complicated compliance requirements in new countries you intend to hire. If you are considering candidates from multiple countries (now, or in the future), an EOR might be the smartest choice to simplify your global HR processes.

Remote’s team of employment specialists are on the ground in every continent, and we operate our own legal entities in over 50 countries. Our team become your local experts, building culturally aware employment packages that don’t just meet minimum statutory requirements in each country of operation. We enable you to find, attract, and retain the best global talent and we help you build trust with your global team.

When should you use an employer of record?

An EOR can help you streamline and scale global growth even before you make your first international hire. 

We’ve previously dedicated an entire guide to when should you use an employer of record, but here are some of the trigger moments where an EOR will immediately help you minimize cost, time, and risk:

  • Establishing new employment contracts 
  • Creating a customized benefits and compensation plan
  • Managing the delivery of benefits for a new hire in compliance with all local labor laws
  • Managing dismissals, terminations, and redundancies while staying compliant with local labor laws, and
  • Protecting any IP & patents developed by your global team members

You can learn more about how Remote simplifies hiring in Thailand, and we can help you build a more motivated and connected global team.

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