More than 100,000 foreigners of about 160,000 working in Cambodia did not have work permits in 2017, according to figures announced during a meeting between the interior and labour ministries yesterday.
Seng Sakada, director general of the Labour Ministry’s general department of labour, said in the meeting that 160,077 foreigners from 93 countries were working in the Kingdom, adding 100,346 of the workers were Chinese nationals.
Hundreds of representatives from businesses employing foreigners participated in the meeting yesterday at the Interior Ministry.
“Most of them are Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipino, Thai, Indonesian, Taiwanese, Malaysian, South Korean, Indian and British nationals,” Mr Sakada said.
“A total of 57,000 foreigners paid for their work permits in 2017,” he added, noting the number of foreign workers obtaining work permits was increasing, with just 4,000 in 2014, 30,928 in 2015 and 39,120 in 2016.
Mr Sakada said the rise in foreigners applying for work permits was remarkable, but said the majority of establishments employing foreigners were still not doing the paperwork.
“There were 102,102 foreigners who did not apply for work permits in 2017,” he said.
The previous fine for not having a work permit was about $2 per day, but the fine has increased to about $10 per day, according to Mr Sakada.
“This is not pressure, this is an obligation that all countries implement,” he said, adding that even the 1.2 million Cambodians working abroad had to get legal permission to work there.
About 1,050,000 Cambodians work in Thailand, more than 40,000 are employed in South Korea, and more are working in other countries, such as Malaysia, Japan and Hong Kong.
Mr Sakada said that in the future, both ministries will establish a special inspection group to prosecute foreigners working without work permits.
He added the ministries have created an online application to make it easier for foreigners to apply for work permits.
A working group of both ministries found 32,512 foreigners illegally working in Cambodia in 2017, according to Mr Sakada.
“I appeal to all industries, establishments, construction companies, casinos, entertainment clubs, businesses, online businesses, other businesses and foreigners who work in Cambodia without work permits and paperwork to please hurry up and do it,” he said.
General Sok Phal, director general of the Interior Ministry’s general immigration department, said only 57,000 foreigners paid for work permits last year.
“They just pay 400,000 riel or about $100 per year for their work permits,” he said.
Mr Phal said both ministries would give them until the Khmer New Year in April to obtain their work permits and after that, officials would inspect their workplaces.
“If they have still not paid for their work permits, they will face imprisonment from three to six months and then we will deport them,” he said. “All foreigners who come to work in Cambodia must have work permits and paperwork from the Labour Ministry.”
Mr Phal compared the cost of work permits in the region, saying they cost $95 in Thailand and $120 in Vietnam.
He said a permit cost between $105 and $472 in Malaysia, more than $150 in the Philippines, and either $30 or $170 in Singapore, depending on the foreigner’s salary.
A foreign worker in Cambodia faces a fine of $125 if found without a work permit, and an additional $100 if their work permit is found to be expired, Mr Phal added.
Last year, 1,389 foreigners were fined a total of $173,625 for working in the country without a work permit.