A labour group has called on the government to ensure that workers get paid and their welfare benefits are not affected when they are told by employers to enter quarantine for 14 days.
The call comes amid the surge in COVID-19 infections following the Songkran holiday.
Some workers who returned to work from the break have been told to self-isolate as a COVID-19 precaution – but would not receive any pay.
Labour Network for People’s Rights representative Thanaporn Wichan said during an online seminar that the government should spell out the quarantine requirement.
She said that due to the spread of the virus many workers who returned from the Songkran holiday were told to stay home for 14 days.
According to Ms Wichan, the government did not impose a travel ban during the Songkran festival despite a surge of COVID-19 infections linked to entertainment venues early in the month. People’s movements during the holiday contributed to the fast transmission of the virus.
“When they came back, ready to work, they were instead told to quarantine for 14 days without pay. If this is the government measure, payment must be granted to workers,” she said.
Apinya Sujarittanant, director-general of the Department of Labour Protection and Welfare, said if the employers’ quarantine order is for their own interest, the employers must pay. “If they suspect the workers are infected and order a quarantine, despite the workers being ready to work, and there are no facts or grounds to support it, the employers must pay,” she said.
This is because the quarantine is ordered in the employers’ interest and the employees’ leave is not considered as an abandonment of work, she said.
She said the department issued guidelines on COVID-19 control and prevention for workplaces under which employers can require workers suspected of contracting the virus to take COVID-19 tests.
She said such a requirement is in line with the government’s disease control measures and employees who fail to comply without a proper reason can face a verbal or written warning.