The Board of Trade and Federation of Thai Industries earlier called on the government to ease the pressure on employers of migrant workers since, under the new law, they would be subject to a heavy fine of Bt400,000 to Bt800,000 per migrant worker if they are found to have hired workers who do not have proper documentation.
Millions of workers from poor neighbors, such as Cambodia and Myanmar, form the backbone of Thailand's manual labor force, with industries such as the multi-billion-dollar seafood business heavily reliant on foreign workers. I was an illegal immigrant but it used to be that we could stay if our employer vouched for us.
Official government figures for the number of undocumented workers leaving this week were not available but immigration police estimated 2,000 had gone back to Myanmar and Cambodia.
In that context, the Thai Government said it would suspend parts of the new foreign labour law, which came into effect on 23 June, for 120 days to allow employers and their employees to seek suitable job solutions.
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Geta Devi, 28, a Myanmar worker based in Bangkok, said some of her friends panicked over the decree, adding, "They went back to Myanmar".
Hundreds of unregistered Myanmar workers on Friday returned home as employees dared not hire them because of tougher punishments under the new executive decree on the recruitment of foreign workers, which imposes fines as high as 800,000 baht.
Such mass movement leaves undocumented workers vulnerable, said Andy Hall, a migrant workers' rights expert who has monitored such migration in Thailand for over a decade.
Last month, the United States kept Thailand on a trafficking watch list, saying it fell short of the minimum standards to end human trafficking.
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