T hailand had made major changes to the rules regarding work permits and its foreign labour law. The changes, which were introduced on March 27 2018 and saw Thailand relax some of its laws regarding work permits, including reducing the
penalties for foreigners found working without work permits. For example, foreigners can no longer be sent to jail for working without a work permit.
Also scrapped was the rarely enforced requirement that all foreigners who come to Thailand to attend meetings, seminars or sports competitions need a work permit.
Arguably the most significant change was that the Decree states that a foreigner who has work permit in Thailand can now work anywhere and for anyone and carry out work not listed in the description on their work permit, providing it is not
excluded under the list of occupations prohibited to foreigners.
There's a new narrower definition of "work":
Engaging in any profession, with or without an employer, but excluding operation of business of a licensee under the Foreign Business Law
The maximum penalty for working without work permit is reduced to a fine of THB 5,000 to 50,000 and to be deported from the country
There was no reference to the recent changes covering people who "work for themselves".
The Thai authorities seem to be taking on people who offer short term lets on rooms, condos, or house, of less than a month. It is legal to privately rent property for periods of over a month but less than a month are only allowed in officially
licensed hotels. Of course the licensing of hotels is very onerous and so is widely ignored.
The issue has perhaps been brought to a head by AirBnB as it provides a straightforward way for people to rent out their properties. hotels feel a bit challenged by the competition and so have been complaining to the authorities.
As is often the case in Thailand, these laws have been in existence for some time but the law has been loosely enforced with some condo developments around the country acting as defacto hotels and listing in many online booking websites.
This week says a court in Hua Hin ruled it was illegal for people to rent out their condos or rooms on a daily or weekly basis. While AirBnB was not specifically mentioned in the Hua Hin court case, the home-share system has grown to the point
where Thailand's legally registered hotels are calling foul.
Earlier this month, authorities in Pattaya arrested seven individuals for operating what were described as illegal hotels (lacking permits or failure to abide reporting laws). Just one of the properties was an apartment building.
AirBnB in Thailand claims its service is legal but have been less than helpful when one a property owner posted on its website's community page a request for clarification. A year passed and no response.
The Immigration Department also have specific requirements of hotels to report any foreign guest's arrival. The unregistered properties fall through this reporting system making them a target of Thailand's strict Immigration requirements.