Thai Centers Set for Process of Legalizing Migrant Workers

Ninety-seven centers set up across Thailand to help undocumented Cambodian workers amid an illegal-laborer crackdown opened their doors on Monday for employers to begin registering workers as part of the initiative’s first step.

Thousands of Cambodians flooded back into the country from late last month to early this month following a clampdown on undocumented workers. The Thai government has since softened its stance, suspending enforcement of new punishments until January.

From now until August 7, undocumented workers must inform their employers about their work status so they can register them with the Thai Labor Ministry, or employers will face heavy fines, Cambodian Labor Ministry spokesman Heng Sour said in a live video on his Facebook page on Tuesday.

From August 7 to September 9, workers themselves will need to visit a center to get initial advice about their status.

Between September 9 and December 31, the workers will need to return to the centers to obtain proper documentation, Mr. Sour said.

“Now it is your chance to upgrade your status,” he said in the Facebook video. “So to do that, now you need to stay and work at the same place where you are staying. Once you have processed this information, you will receive many benefits, such as health insurance.”

Cambodian authorities will continue to work with their Thai counterparts to provide services to grant workers legal status, he said in the video. Mr. Sour did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday. In a statement earlier this month, the Labor Ministry said there were about 300,000 Cambodians working illegally in Thailand. The ministry says it aims to register at least 160,000 of those in 100 days.

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