Thailand – Social Security and Welfare
Thailand has a social security system which is funded by workers contributions as well as additional contributions from the employer. There are different sections to the social security system.
The social insurance system is for old age, disability and survivors. All those who are working between the ages of 15 and 60 can make contributions to this system. A worker will contribute 3% of their gross monthly earnings towards pensions and family benefits. If you want to make voluntary contributions you can contribute 9% of earnings up to 4,800 THB each month. Those who earn less than 1,650 will not make contributions. The self-employed make an annual contribution of 3,360 THB. In addition to this, those who are employed will have their contributions topped up by the employer by 3% and the government will add a further 1%.
In order to claim the old age pension a person must be at least 55 years of age and have made at least 180 months contribution. The pension can only be claimed if the claimant is no longer working and if he/she begins work after claiming the pension it is suspended until they stop work again. If a pensioner dies within 60 months of beginning to claim the old age pension a lump sum is paid out to the spouse, children and any surviving parents. The pension that is paid out is the equivalent of 20% of the average wage earned in the previous 60 months before retirement. Payments are increased by 1.5% of this amount for each 12 month period of contributions over and above the minimum 180 months. As there is no minimum pension, low earners could find that their pension amount is not very high.
A disability pension is covered in this section but those who claim must have a medical certificate stating that they are no longer capable of working and they must have made at least 3 month’s worth of contributions within the previous 15 months. This is only paid out when the claimant is no longer claiming the cash sickness benefit. The disability pension is calculated on the highest 3 months earnings in the previous 9 months and is paid at 50% of the average daily rate. This pension is subject to cost of living increases.
Sickness and Maternity benefits are also part of the social insurance system. For these benefits the worker will contribute 1.5% of their gross monthly earnings and this is matched by the employer and the government. Voluntary contributions can also be made if desired. For sickness benefits a claimant must have been paying into the system for a minimum of 3 months in the previous 15 months while the maternity benefits require a minimum of 7 months contributions in the previous 15 months. The maternity benefits system will only pay out for the first 2 instances of childbirth in a family. Sickness benefit and maternity benefits are calculated in the same way that the disability pension is.
Unemployment benefits are covered by the social insurance fund and each worker will contribute 0.5% from their salary which is matched by the employer and added to with 0.25% donated by the Thai government. Self employed workers cannot be covered by this benefit. In order to claim this benefit a person needs to have made at least 6 month’s worth of contributions in the preceding 15 months. In order to claim it is essential to be registered with the Government Employment Service and be willing to take on any suitable work. If the worker has been sacked then they may not be eligible for this benefit, but the social security system looks carefully at each individual case. This benefit is also calculated in the same way that the disability, sickness and maternity benefits are but will only be paid out after at least 8 days of unemployment.
In addition a family can claim child allowance each month of 350 THB for each child providing they are registered in the social security system. There is no contribution required for this and the family must have made a minimum of 12 month’s worth of contributions in the 36 months preceding the claim. This benefit is paid out for children under the age of 6 but a family can only claim for a maximum of 2 children.
All those working are eligible for medical cover if they have a work permit and are making contributions to the social security system. All those who are not in the system should have private medical insurance to cover them. If you have a work permit and are working then contributions are compulsory, no matter what your nationality.
In order to register with the social security fund it is necessary that the employer completes their paperwork first and provides the worker with the SSO 1-03 form to be completed. This should be presented along with a photocopy of an ID card and a passport, and any other ID documents that are requested. The employer needs to send these to the social security office. When registration is completed the worker will receive a social security card 5 days after registration and this card remains the same no matter how many jobs the person has. There is also a medical card which is sent out after 3 months contributions have been made so that the holder can receive free medical treatment.
Thailand does have some bi-lateral social security agreements in place but these are mainly with neighbours in the Pacific region.