The global economy has taken a staggering hit following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Country after country has announced full lockdowns or issued a multitude of orders intended to limit the movement of people.
As the pandemic shows signs of being brought under control in some countries, governments have begun looking to the future, cautiously seeking to restart their economies without triggering another outbreak. With ten member firms throughout Southeast Asia, Rajah & Tann Asia is uniquely positioned to address queries that employers and businesses with cross-border dealings within this region of high economic interconnectivity and interdependency may have, particularly with regard to the anticipated reopening of businesses.
Our member firms hail from the jurisdictions of Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. This COVID-19 Publication brings together our lawyers from all member firms to answer the following questions:
- Is your jurisdiction under some form of movement control restrictions, whether full or partial ("Restrictions")? If so, what Restrictions are in place?
- Are businesses open and functioning during these Restrictions?
- If businesses are not allowed to open, how long is this situation expected to last?
- What conditions need to be in place to allow businesses to open and continue to function, and what are employers’ legal obligations in this situation?
- What is the risk to employers who reopen their premises for business? What additional measures should employers take to manage their liabilities?
In order to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Thailand, the Thai government announced an emergency decree which applies to all areas in Thailand from 26 March to 30 April 2020 (“Emergency Decree”), and has since been extended to 31 May 2020. Under the Emergency Decree, the Thai government has issued several notifications in order to prevent and suppress the outbreak.
One of the most recent notifications is from the Ministry of Labour Re: Referral of unsettled labour disputes to the labour relations committee for settlement and prohibition on employers to cause a lockout or employees to cause a strike during the period of the emergency situations in accordance with the laws on public administration in emergency situations (“Notification”). The Notification came into force on 8 May 2020 and is widely understood to be intended to prevent a potential spread of the disease by prohibiting employee strike action, while also allowing employees who were previously subject to a lockout to return to work.
On 19 May 2020, the Thai Cabinet approved in principle a proposal made by the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society to provide a one-year long postponement of the effective date of key operative provisions of the Personal Data Protection Act B.E. 2562 (2019) ("PDPA") from 27 May 2020 to 31 May 2021 ("New Effective Date"). This move comes as good news for companies struggling to implement their personal data protection regimes by the original 27 May 2020 date. For example, by the New Effective Date, companies are required to ensure they obtain consent from the Data Subject prior to or at the time of any collection, use, or disclosure of Personal Data, except where consent is not required under the PDPA or pursuant to any other laws.
This Update highlights the implications of the postponement, as well as the key features of the PDPA