Measures to ensure equality of treatment of migrant workers in case of work-related accident in Thailand
In previous observations on the application of the Equality of Treatment (Accident Compensation) Convention, No 19, the Committee of Experts had expressed deep concerns over the situation of more than 2 million migrants working in Thailand. In response to these concerns, the Thai Government argued that the Workmen’s Compensation Act B.E 2537 of 1994 (WCA) covers without discrimination migrant workers holding a passport and a work permit putting them on equal footing with Thai nationals with regards to disability benefits, medical care, rehabilitation services, survivor benefits and funeral grant for dependents in case of death. As for illegal migrants, representing 90 per cent of all migrants, the Government authorizes temporary working permits while they awaiting repatriation. These registered illegal migrants, with regards to occupational accident, are entitled to compensation paid by the employer and upon the decision of a competent official of the Social Security Office (SSO) equal to the compensation paid to Thai employees, in accordance with the WCA. The Committee concluded that although the right to equal treatment of foreign workers in case of a work-related accident is recognized by the WCA, additional conditions for the implementation of this right, established by an SSO circular, have prevented legally employed migrants from affiliating to the Workmen’s Compensation Fund (WCF), pending completion of a complex and lengthy nationality verification procedure. In its observations, the Committee recalled “that a key principle on which the right to social security is premised is non-discrimination and pertains to all persons, irrespective of status and origin. The Committee recognizes that extending the right to social security, including the right to medical care to non-citizens is a key challenge for many societies today. With regard to non-citizens, even where they are in an irregular status on the territory of another state, such as undocumented workers, they should have access to basic benefits and particularly to emergency medical care […]The Committee urges the Government to ensure that these measures achieve rapid and substantial results on the ground in the near future and, that the measures effectively eliminate cases of denial of emergency medical care and related benefits to uninsured migrant workers suffering industrial accidents referred to by the SERC.”
Calling attention to the difficult humanitarian situation of migrant workers, the Committee requested that the Government exercise its general responsibility for the proper functioning of the social security system by taking positive and urgent measures to review the policy and legal framework concerning social security coverage and protection of migrant workers in case of occupational accidents and instructing the SSO to lift restrictive conditions and facilitate access of migrant workers to the WCF irrespective of their nationality.
Case Title: Equality of Treatment (Accident Compensation) Convention, 1925 (No. 19) – Thailand (Ratification: 1968)
Date of Views: Adopted 2011 [Link to original record]