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What's up with discussion of "work-ations"?


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6 hours ago, JCP108 said:

Historically, Thailand has banned working without a work permit and even doing things that resemble work without one (like volunteering). Are there plans to change these rules to allow people with no work permits to legally work while visiting Thailand?

Historically the Thai authorities interpretation of the rules has been that if you are doing work for a business abroad and it doesn't involve Thai people, then it isn't seen as working in Thailand (even if you are physically in Thailand), thus no work permit required.

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10 minutes ago, mrfill said:

'Work-ation' - Is that like 'working' ?

In case this is not clear, it is a combination of the words word and vacation. The idea is that you can travel to a country because you like it there, while working either part or full time while there.

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11 hours ago, jackdd said:

Historically the Thai authorities interpretation of the rules has been that if you are doing work for a business abroad and it doesn't involve Thai people, then it isn't seen as working in Thailand (even if you are physically in Thailand), thus no work permit required.

Since when? Never seen this 'interpretation' before. Sounds more like wishful thinking to me.

 

I seem to remember reports of immigration raiding Co-worker places up North some time ago. ☹️

 

 

Edited by Chris.B
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11 hours ago, JCP108 said:

There was a dude about 3 years ago who lived in Thailand and had a Youtube channel posting videos many of which were about a local orphanage up in Isaan where he lived. He monetized the channel and donated the proceeds to the orphanage. He got threatened with deportation if he didn't demonetize his channel because making videos and posting them on Youtube and receiving money apparently is illegal work. I forget his name. They also scolded him apparently for volunteering at fundraisers for the orphanage because apparently donating a bunch of chicken and helping set up chairs at such an event is illegal work.

Yes this has been answered in surprisingly accurate clear detail by the labour office.. If you make videos outside Thailand, monetise your channel before you come and do nothing to the channel while here, the income in passive residual income and hence doesn't need a work permit or day 1 taxation.. If you do any activity, making videos or blogs, maintaining the channels or comments etc.. Then it is active income and needs a work permit and taxation from day 1. Actually perfectly logical. 

Also see the 'My Mate Nate' saga.. 

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18 hours ago, JCP108 said:

Are there plans to change these rules to allow people with no work permits to legally work while visiting Thailand?

I doubt it very much.

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1 hour ago, Chris.B said:

I seem to remember reports of immigration raiding Co-worker places up North some time ago. 

And back then nobody was arrested because they weren't considered as working in Thailand.

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1 hour ago, mrfill said:

But isn't a 'vacation' a break from work?

No, not always. it is a break from your normal routine of some kind, often including traveling to a new place for pleasure. You can certainly spend more or less of your time working during a vacation, although the nature of that work might change.

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The law seems clear that digital nomad work is illegal, but as always it depends how it is interpreted and enforced. And as far as interpretation, key also is if you consider the purpose of legislation, which is to protect Thai jobs. That is why the authorities are generally relaxed about it, but that could change at any time. We'd only really know the true situation if a case came to court.

 

Coming to Thailand for a vacation, and mixing in some remote working  is surely not an issue at all. It happens everywhere.

Edited by Tuvoc
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I've done volunteer teaching in Europe sold as a "working vacation". Teach in the mornings and afternoons, then enjoy your evenings and weekends bicycling around town, lounging on the beach, and getting sloshed in the pubs. The school rented apartments we had to chip in for, but much cheaper than hotels. Overall a good deal. A good balance of working and enjoyment the rest of life sorely needs

 

I'm officially a high school teacher here on a Non-B visa, but also teach adults online. Whenever I tell my students I'm in Thailand, they usually go "Oh, another one, I've talked to so many. American, British, Australian, Canadian teachers, in Thailand, Vietnam, and Philippines." Despite the gray area and strict view these countries have, it's become common practice. The students ask me why, I always tell them the availability of work, low cost of living, beautiful country, beautiful women. 😁

 

I finally got jabbed last week at the local govt hospital. Many other farangs, mostly retired, but a few who mentioned doing online work. Of course they didn't care to elaborate. It's likely a lot more lucrative than my teaching.

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On 10/23/2021 at 5:44 AM, jackdd said:

Historically the Thai authorities interpretation of the rules has been that if you are doing work for a business abroad and it doesn't involve Thai people, then it isn't seen as working in Thailand (even if you are physically in Thailand), thus no work permit required.

Except for when they decide to arrest you anyway. It might be rare but it can happen. 

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On 10/22/2021 at 11:07 PM, JCP108 said:

I'm seeing articles recently touting Thailand as a nice destination for a "work-ation" and some are quoting Thai officials. I'm confused. Historically, Thailand has banned working without a work permit and even doing things that resemble work without one (like volunteering). Are there plans to change these rules to allow people with no work permits to legally work while visiting Thailand?

You've always been allowed to work while in holiday.  What you can't do is get a job in Thailand while claiming to be a tourist.  
But doing work tasks for your job back home is allowed and they can't possibly stop it.

A very large part of my work involves reading and thinking about work.  If I was on holiday here, how would any Thai authority  know I'm 'thinking about work'.
 

1) How many tourists do you think do work while on holiday? 
2) How many tourists do you think get arrested for working while on holiday?

My answers

1) Probably 90% or more.  I do 50% of my work from my phone these days, so it doesn't matter where I am or when, I can be working.  
2) Very very few. How is anyone going to know you've answered an emails on your phone or had a phone meeting with your staff back home? (or even done those things on your laptop). 

 

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On 10/23/2021 at 12:18 PM, Tuvoc said:

The law seems clear that digital nomad work is illegal, but as always it depends how it is interpreted and enforced. And as far as interpretation, key also is if you consider the purpose of legislation, which is to protect Thai jobs. That is why the authorities are generally relaxed about it, but that could change at any time. We'd only really know the true situation if a case came to court.

Its also to facilitate knowledge transfer and bring Thai workers up in skills, hence the 4 Thai staff per WP rule.. So its not like theres nothing that they would object to. 

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I appreciate all the comments on this thread. I'm left as confused as when I started, though. Thailand needs to address this issue partly to come up to speed with the nature of remote work and also to clarify to potential digital nomads and other remote workers exactly what is accepted and what is illegal and could carry consequences (such as deportation and/or getting blacklisted). Given the general confusion about all types of policies in the government, I'm not hopeful this will happen soon or in a coherent manner. So, seems that anyone working remotely while located in Thailand just has to lay low and hope they don't get noticed.

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2 hours ago, JCP108 said:

I appreciate all the comments on this thread. I'm left as confused as when I started, though. Thailand needs to address this issue partly to come up to speed with the nature of remote work and also to clarify to potential digital nomads and other remote workers exactly what is accepted and what is illegal and could carry consequences (such as deportation and/or getting blacklisted).

I agree with this. Looks like I am going to run into a similar situation where my current employer wants to hire me as a consultant when I retire from the company. Most of my work would be maintaining new and current tech processes that I've built as well as to research and advise when new software/hardware is needed. This would be established before coming to Thailand. I can't get a work permit for myself without starting a company, which doesn't make sense for me to start if I am only going to be working for one client. 

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19 minutes ago, HappyGoLuckyLife said:

I agree with this. Looks like I am going to run into a similar situation where my current employer wants to hire me as a consultant when I retire from the company. Most of my work would be maintaining new and current tech processes that I've built as well as to research and advise when new software/hardware is needed. This would be established before coming to Thailand. I can't get a work permit for myself without starting a company, which doesn't make sense for me to start if I am only going to be working for one client. 

Just stay employed at the company, problem solved.

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2 hours ago, jackdd said:

Just stay employed at the company, problem solved.

How does that solve his problem? He will be employed, working remotely, and in Thailand with no work permit.

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3 hours ago, HappyGoLuckyLife said:

I agree with this. Looks like I am going to run into a similar situation where my current employer wants to hire me as a consultant when I retire from the company

I wish mine would !  You never know but I think they would want some assurance that I would not be breaking the law, which would be hard to give. I'd also have to change from a retirement extension to a marriage extension for any possibility of a work permit.

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4 hours ago, JCP108 said:

How does that solve his problem? He will be employed, working remotely, and in Thailand with no work permit.

Because the Thai authorities then don't consider him as working in Thailand, so no work permit required. See for example:

https://www.chiangmaicitylife.com/citynews/general/immigration-officers-raid-popular-co-working-space/

Edited by jackdd
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Under the latest order for work permits and working issued in 2018 it is highly unlikely a person would be punished for working online. Most of the replies to this topic are going by the old act of 2008 that even has different definition of work from the new one.

 

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On 10/22/2021 at 11:07 PM, JCP108 said:

I'm seeing articles recently touting Thailand as a nice destination for a "work-ation" and some are quoting Thai officials. I'm confused. Historically, Thailand has banned working without a work permit and even doing things that resemble work without one

What does working illegally and a “work-ation” have to do with each other? You can do a workation while having a work permit and you can work illegally from home, too. 

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