Today’s News & Commentary — July 3, 2017
About 60,000 migrant workers left Thailand between June 23 and June 28, according to Thailand’s immigration bureau, after the country’s military government adopted new labor regulations addressing the prevalence and abusive conditions of migrant labor. A decree that came into effect on June 17 penalizes employers who hire undocumented foreign workers 800,000 baht (30,720 USD). In response, many businesses have fired workers. Other workers, fearing an impending crackdown, have left on their own volition. The majority of Thai migrant workers come from Myanmar. Labour officials there report that over 16,000 Burmese migrant workers have returned home over the weekend. Most have been staying in government buildings retrofitted to provide temporary shelter for one or two days before continuing on to their hometowns. These chaotic conditions pose a high risk of human trafficking. Over 3 million migrant workers work in Thailand.
On Friday, the 10th Circuit invalidated an Obama-era Department of Labor regulation forcing employers to share gratuities with workers where workers are already receiving the federal minimum wage. The regulation states that all tips “are property of the employee,” regardless of how much the workers make in regular wages. A three-judge panel held that the regulation went beyond the statutory authority granted to the Department of Labor in the Fair Labor Standards Act, as the FLSA provisions at issue, those dealing with “tip credits,” only address employers who use tips to bring workers up to the minimum wage. The 10th Circuit’s holding deepens the circuit split on the issue, as the 9th Circuit upheld the regulation last year, a decision now on review for certiorari.
Microsoft is reportedly planning to lay off thousands of employees around the world as part of its shift in focus to cloud services. Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, has seen impressive revenue growth—94% in the third quarter of 2017. The planned restructuring will primarily affect Worldwide Commercial Business, Microsoft’s global sales and marketing group, which has primarily been trained to sell Microsoft’s software products.