He said the centres can handle up to two million unregistered migrant workers, or around 1,500 workers at each centre per day.
The 101 centres officially swung into action to give unregistered migrant workers who have been working in Thailand without the required documents, including a work permit and a certificate of identity (CI), legitimate working status.
The centres, which will be open until Aug 7, are aimed at getting all illegal migrant labourers registered in compliance with an executive decree which imposes harsh punishments on employers who hire undocumented foreign nationals. The government will upgrade the legal status of workers who can confirm they have valid employment as well as prove their identity.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha exercised Section 44 as a means to curb wrongdoing, including transnational human trafficking. The 15-day window in which the centres will be open is part of the 180-day grace period (ending Jan 1) that the government has given employers and workers to get their paperwork in order.
Gen Sirichai said that after this period, employers along with their workers must undergo a process to verify their employment status from Aug 8 to Sept 8.
He also denied a rumour that the government will open another round of registration, insisting this will be the final lenient period for Thai employers to legalise their unregistered employees without facing legal action.
ML Puntarik Samiti, permanent secretary for labour, said that after employers have submitted documents with officials at the centres, it will take only three minutes for authorities to enter the information in the ministry’s database. Also, employers do not need to hire private agencies to handle the registration as the process is not complicated, she added.
In Chiang Rai, a large number of employers and migrant workers flocked to register at the centre.
Provincial governor Narongsak Osotthanakorn said most employers did not understand the registration process, but added that it was easy as only minimal information was needed in a single document. Employers also do not have to bring their workers to the centres as they can authorise other people to submit documents on their behalf.
Somchai Akkarathamkul, chief of Samut Sakhon Provincial Employment Office, said the centre had mostly welcomed employers from small businesses who had learned of the need to register their employees. About 30,000-40,000 undocumented migrant labourers have been found to be working in the province, he said.
At IT Square in Bangkok’s Lak Si district, a total of 1,053 undocumented migrant workers had been registered by 448 employers as of 4pm yesterday.
Anchalee Chupachookbandan, a social security scholar at the Ministry of Labour, said turnout so far had been small, but she believed the centres could be packed in the final days of the registration process.
She said there was initially some confusion among employers concerning which workers actually needed to be registered.
“We told the employers that they don’t have to register with us if they already have all the correct documents,” Ms Anchalee said. “In the cases that they are employing illegal immigrants, they will have to register.”
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