26 October 2016
The Immigration Department (ImmD) arrested 12 illegal workers and two suspected employers during territory-wide anti-illegal worker operations codenamed "Twilight" on October 24 and 25.
During the operations, Immigration Task Force officers raided 12 target locations including a residential flat, a cooking workshop, a construction site, a factory, an exhibition hall, restaurants and stalls. The 12 illegal workers comprised nine men and three women aged 21 to 52. One man and one woman aged 33 and 34 were suspected of employing the illegal workers.
"Any person who contravenes a condition of stay in force in respect of him shall be guilty of an offence. Also, visitors are not allowed to take up employment in Hong Kong, whether paid or unpaid, without the permission of the Director of Immigration. Offenders are liable to prosecution and upon conviction face a maximum fine of $50,000 and up to two years' imprisonment," an ImmD spokesman said.
The spokesman reiterated that it is a serious offence to employ people who are not lawfully employable. The maximum penalty is imprisonment for three years and a fine of $350,000. The High Court has laid down sentencing guidelines that the employer of an illegal worker should be given an immediate custodial sentence. According to the court sentencing, employers must take all practicable steps to determine whether a person is lawfully employable prior to employment. Apart from inspecting a prospective employee's identity card, the employer has the explicit duty to make enquiries regarding the person and ensure that the answers would not cast any reasonable doubt concerning the lawful employability of the person. Otherwise, the court will not accept failure to do so as a defence in proceedings. It is also an offence if an employer fails to inspect the job seeker's valid travel document if the job seeker does not have a Hong Kong permanent identity card. The maximum penalty for failing to inspect such a document is imprisonment for one year and a fine of $150,000.