Getting a Job and Working in Thailand as a Non-Citizen

Thailand has limits on foreign workers inside its borders.  The common rule is that a non-Thai citizen can not take a job in Thailand unless no Thai citizen can do the job.  If such a case can be certified, then the worker and employer must, together, submit a request to the Thai government for a work permit for that person.  Usually, the permit is for a specific length of time.  Also, the foreigner must hold a visa that indicates he/she is a worker there.  No form of work, including volunteering for free, is allowed without a work permit.  This is the only legal way for a foreigner to work in Thailand.

Thai employers are not eager to hire foreigners, either for high level jobs like engineer or scientist or lowly household maids, and the paperwork for certification is not easy to put together.  Due to weak Thai method of education (rote) and low demands on students, even in college, there is a general shortage of international standards workers among Thai natives.  Also, much higher levels of work done by Thai work force comes by way of inheritance of family businesses–children are taken into the family businesses often regardless of their wishes or particular skill.   Yet, the nation appears to function well, partly due to a productive work force in assembly-line factories and in the rice fields.   New rules regarding foreign workers may soon apply to Thailand due to agreements among the ASEAN nations which could upset this mostly closed system. 

Seeking work and being hired to work in Thailand is a unique experience rather different from Western practices.

I will tell you from experience that Thai dislike giving contracts and even confirmation of a job before you are on the job. I do not understand that except to say that Thai employers do not seem to trust Americans to actually show up and do the job. Also, they fear the foreigner will come for a month or two and then bail out with no warning. Apparently that happens rather often.*

Further, Thai employers are loath to pay to fly a prospect to Thailand for an interview. Also, they are not too likely to hire just based on a resume that sent in from outside Thailand. And, it is frustrating that the Thai habit of saying NO is to, instead, just say nothing, not even to acknowledge they got application mail to them.

Foreigners typically work on a one year contract with no later job security and no hint if another year contract is to come, even on the last day of the first contract.  For example, I just went in on the next day, everyone seemed to expect it, and my contract for the coming year arrived three months later. This was a commercial for-profit company and I hear rumors that it is typical.

Now, one may wonder how these conditions attract and hold good high-end foreign employees; the answer is that it does not. All of the foreigners I know who work in Thailand do that and stay due to personal reasons, like a Thai wife (some I do not know may be running from the law at their home nations). Most really desirable employees just would not put up with this situation otherwise.

*Thai workers are also well known for just not coming back in for work the next day with no notice at all. BTW, legitimate severance pay is rare for anyone, and there is no unemployment benefit. Note, many do not quit in Dec. because traditionally just after Jan. 1, that thirteenth month of pay in the form of a bonus arrives (paid 13 for 12 mos of work).

In general, Thailand appears to be very concerned about being taken over by foreigners.  Foreigners can not own land, for example.  Thailand’s coming challenge is to solve the problem of adapting to the rest of the world while retaining all that is, today, unique and beautiful in Thai culture.


About Charles Henry Harpole

Retired college teacher of cinema studies and film-making. Film Dept/Program founder and administrator. Buddhist. Amateur "ham" radio operator, HS0ZCW. Prepper evaluator
This entry was posted in Education, How to do things for yourself, Thailand and Travel and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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