Ajarn Street

What are your rights?

Where questions are thrown out to real teachers.....or just thrown out

Hi everyone, I need to know about my rights as an English teacher regarding payment for public holidays. It seems that a language institute in Bangkok does not pay for all public holidays ( they pay for about four a year in fact) . It is a 'full time' job , paid per contact hour - about 20 - 25 hours per week depending on demand, and I'm pleased with everything else regarding the company.

Is it true that as the company's unpaid day-off is Friday (and most of the Thai public holidays are on a Friday) they can get away with not paying for that day. I am told that all companies must nominate a minimum of 10 public holidays out of the 15 for their company.

I am trying to find out my rights, before signing a contract , whether a full-time employee , by Thai law, must be paid for public holidays as well as health insurance (which this employer does provide) and also sick leave (which they don't pay).

I also don't want to make any trouble for myself as well ( This Is Thailand) by sticking up for my rights ( if any) before starting work for this company. Even clarifying it by asking them to state in the contract that they DON"T pay for these days could be asking for trouble. I have seen this link stating that employees are entitled to thirteen national holidays, sick leave and health insurance and would I like to know if it applies to me please. Any advice would be very appreciated.



Thai Labour Law - free download. Know your rights.


By Ajarn D, BKK (1st August 2019)

Simple. Search for and download the Thai labour laws. Read them. It's not a lot to do considering this is your profession. If there is something you feel you are correct about ... decide (a) if you can afford to survive losing your job, because at some point they will fire you for bringing up the law .. if yes, go to the ministry of labour andfile your claim. They are very helpful and on your side. I represented myself in a labour court with three judges before me. It is the King's law, and if it is being flouted you will be protected. Any time for example, a school says they are not "offering you a new contract" then they need to compensate you accordingly as contracts are rolling contracts, and once you have been working more thna a year for them, that's worth money.

By Ajarn D, BKK (1st August 2019)

Well after reading what you wrote above this would be my answer to your question......... Which probably won't help you other then to offer my personal experience with these issues. Your "rights" depend on which school you are working at. If you are not a contract teacher, or FULL-TIME salary teacher, then I would answer no to your questions. If you are/can become a full-time contract teacher then the answer SHOULD be yes. If you are working those hours on a weekly basis and they don't offer these benefits, I would look elsewhere. There are plenty of places that will offer these perks if you are in fact a full-time salary teacher. Being paid only by contact hours really doesn't give you anything in the way of perks in their eyes ( and in my experience). Most of your Malls in the bigger cities in Thailand will give you a full-time salary ( plus extra if you work over the hours stated in your contract) and SOME paid holidays and SOME paid leave. I find that you are better off working for a school that will offer you a year contract with paid summer holidays. Paid summer holidays gives you anywhere from 4-9 weeks paid in a row! My school offers 9 weeks paid per year ( 14-15 weeks all together depending on where each public holiday lands). I hope this helps. This is just in my experience of being here for 5 years. Others may it see it differently. Good Luck!!!

PS: Not here to dispute what anyone else has written or experienced. Just my opinion on the matter.

By Ron, BKK (19th September 2012)

I have only just left Thailand after working there for several years.

Unfortunately, the link you provided is for full and part-time employees.

Whilst you may consider yourself to be either of the above, your contract is based on contact hours, not contracted hours. Therefore, the Labour Laws are different for 'contractors'. It may also interest you to know that even teachers who work in private schools are not covered by the full Labour Laws. There is a specific act that covers teachers in Private schools (Private Schools Act) and many of the rights are denied you.

By Steven, Doha, Qatar (12th September 2012)

Ok Calan and Phil..touche.

On the topic, who really knows how something is ever going to go legally?
Roll your dice, take your chances, hope for the best.

Good luck Ali

By Jason, Rangsit (11th September 2012)

Can we get back on to the topic of actually helping Ali rather than arguing with each other? That was not the intention of this section.

By philip, (9th September 2012)

@Jason - What about my statement was bitter, angry or hyperbolic? I didn't rip into your post saying your ideas were "fanciful, asinine, and patently false". You have your right to think that it's untrue, but the others are just things you made out of thin air. Be careful about who is spouting off hyperbole. You responded with the textbook poorly thought out answer I always hear in Thailand "If you are slightly critical of Thailand, then you should get out!" I have heard this from Thais and long term expats as well. Please grow up, that's such a non-response with no meaning that I don't even want to acknowledge it anymore. Try solving a problem instead of banishing it, that's much more difficult.

I never expressed anger or bitterness towards Thailand or the system here, just my observations from working here. In my daily life, I really enjoy living and working here but I also don't think that for a second that I am protected by any sets of laws anywhere on the books. Some people are able to separate their emotions from the logical processing centers of their brain, and not muddle the two in an incoherent post.

Trying to separate cultural bias from justice is impossible; justice is almost entirely a product of cultural norms. If the set of laws on the books are never used and instead a new "backroom" set are employed, then they really are the laws, aren't they? The old set are null and void. To let Ali, or anyone for that matter, out of the loop in that regard would be to totally point them in the wrong direction, legally speaking.

I also like how you say "I understand your argument about extralegal retribution except that it doesn't matter", "Thailand is pretty fair except when it's not" "There are laws to protect workers except really there's not" and "People who think the justice system is unfair are probably paranoid and therefore untrustworthy/unreliable, so you should listen to me".

Bravo, my friend, you officially don't know how to formulate any sort of argument without degrading into attacking people with backhanded comments and using false reasoning. Next time try actually contributing instead of lashing out irrationally.

By Calan, Chachoengsao (9th September 2012)

@ Calan...
Ok, I understand your argument about enforcement and/or after the fact extralegal retribution, etc.

I answered Ali's question, which didn't ask about any of the cultural bias.

Yes, Ali and Calan, there are two sets of laws here, just like in any country. There are the official laws on the books and the backroom, often culturally influenced, jingoistic and/or xenophobic deals that happen.

I also agree with Lisa. if the contract spells out terms, for certain situations, and then we try to renegotiate these conditions after we have signed the contract, well...? I don't think would go over in any country.

However, saying things like "you HAVE no rights in this country" is, in my opinion, untrue, bitter, angry, hyperbole...statistics or not. Anyone who truly believes that should probably not work here, because they'll probably always be in a constant state of paranoia, which is bad for their physical and mental health. Life is too short.

By Jason Alavi, Rangsit (8th September 2012)

I work for a language centre in Bangkok and although we have a contract which we have to adhere to, it is written into the contract that the management can change said terms of the contract whenever they want, effectively making the contract redundant!

As far as I know, Thai Labour Law stipulates that workers are entitled to 'x' number of sick days a year, however, if you sign a contract which states that you are entitled to a certain number of sick days, or no paid sick days, then you waive your right to what is stipulated in the law.

My contract states that I get paid for 8 and a half months of the year, yet during the floods, we weren't paid for almost 2 months as we couldn't work, bringing our yearly wage to a total of only 6 months pay, This is because the management of our company changed the rules of the contract so as to save themselves money.

Fun stuff.

By Sarah, Bangkok (8th September 2012)

Didn't you notice this when you read your contract and decided to take this job offer? This is like buying some clothes and wearing them around, then deciding you don't like them and want a refund or exchange. Buyer's remorse/contract remorse, what's the difference? Always read the fine print before you sign or you lose your right to negotiation. I think if you try and negotiate this now, you'll only look really stupid in front of some 'oh so clever Thais.'

I agree 100% with Calan!

By Lisa, (7th September 2012)

@Jason - the existence of laws and the enforcement of laws are two very different things. Foreigners may have won their day in court but what happened to them afterwards? Did they stay working at their schools? Did they quit? Were they fired? That would be more important really than the ruling itself. Furthermore, most foreign teachers are bounded by their visas (always less than one year), as to what one can accomplish. Bottom line is that temporary visitors (tourists or short term workers) are routinely taken advantage of. What I was trying to inform Ali is that justice as we know it in western countries just doesn't exist here in Thailand. You can spout stats saying otherwise but it is plainly evident that fairness or justice is not very important to the national consciousness. Negative maybe, but certainly more realistic than your view.

By Calan, Chachoengsao (6th September 2012)

Based upon my ten years of experience hiring foreign teachers in Thailand,as long as a contract clause does not infringe upon a person's human rights, any clause in a signed contract is valid, since it is agreed to by both employee and employer. This is how it was explained to me by my (Thai) attorney.

So, if there is a signed contract, and it states that any holidays not worked are not paid, end of story. If there is a contract and it is not mentioned, I don't know. Interesting point. I would guess that, if someone is paid hourly or daily, whether it is in a contract or not, they do not get paid for days not worked.

I noticed, Ali, that you wrote "depending on demand". In legalese, this is termed an "at will" position. It is at the will of the employer as to when they do or do not need your services. Obviously, they do not need your services on a public holiday, when the school is closed.

I recommend, whenever possible, that you get a full time job that states clearly how much you will be paid per month, whether or not you actually work the hours or not. For example, last year during the flood, I had 21 employees who had 7 and a half weeks off, with pay. This is because it says, in their contracts, that they get paid, whether or not they work, in instances of circumstances beyond their control which prevented them from working.

I don't agree at all with the negative bent of most foreigners here who say stuff like "You have NO rights" or "Thai judges always side with the Thais". I have done volunteer interpretation for The Labor Court System on no less than 100 labor dispute cases involving foreign teachers against Thai employers. In more than 70 percent of the cases, the foreign teacher won! It was usually because they had their ducks in a row (legal document speaking) much more so than the Thai staff at the school they were suing.

If you use common sense and research the law, you'll do alright in the courts here. I also recommend a book entitled "Thai Labor Law" by NILO Law Offices. It is about 800 Baht and can be bought at any Asia Books. BEST 800 you'll spend! Fantastic translation of ALL Thai Labor Law. Know your rights.

Good luck!

By Jason Alavi, Rangsit, Thailand (6th September 2012)

Here's a little anecdote that should put it all into perspective for you.
There is a well documented case of a native English teacher from Canada that tried to stand up for his rights. He had a contract, work permit and Thailand teachers licence. When the school he worked for in Thailand broke the contract he took them to court. After 2 years of stall tactics by the school he finaly got his day before a Thai judge. After reviewing the facts and evidence the judge told him that he agreed with him 100%. He had proved his case and the school was definitly in the wrong but, he is a farang and they are Thai so with apologies the judge ruled in favour of the Thai school!!! He was sunbsequetly stripped of his work pemit and Thailand teachers licence and ordered to leave the country.
Good luck to you....

By Dave, Asia (4th September 2012)

You absolutely have zero rights to anything at all in this country. The only office that could help is the Ministry of Labor. There are laws such as this to protect workers, but there isn't anyone to enforce them. If you do decide to go after your employer and pursue the matter with the Ministry of Labour, you can bet that you'll be fired shortly after the case is settled. My advice would be to be find a new job if you don't like the one you're at right now.

By Calan, Chachoengsao (3rd September 2012)

"It seems that a language institute in Bangkok does not pay for all public holidays (they pay for about four a year in fact)"

I'm going back about 15 years and my memory may be a little hazy but I don't remember the private schools I worked for ever paying teachers for a public holiday. We had contracts, we were paid by the hour - but on a public holiday, we didn't work so we didn't earn anything. End of. We were just happy to have the day off if truth be told.

By philip, (3rd September 2012)

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