12 April 2016
A territory-wide enforcement operation codenamed "Twilight" and a joint operation codenamed "Windsand" were mounted by the Immigration Department and the Hong Kong Police Force yesterday (April 11) to combat illegal employment activities. A total of 12 illegal workers and two suspected employers were arrested.
During operation "Twilight", Immigration Task Force officers raided seven target locations including restaurants and units under renovation. Five illegal workers comprising four men and one woman aged from 29 to 55 were arrested. Among them, one man and one woman were holders of recognisance forms, which prohibit them from taking any employment. One man and one woman aged 27 and 56 were suspected of employing the illegal workers.
During operation "Windsand", seven Mainland visitors comprising four men and three women aged from 18 to 52 were arrested for breaching their conditions of stay by being involved in suspected parallel goods trading at San Wan Road and Ka Fu Close in Sheung Shui. The goods included milk powder, food, skincare products and electronic components.
Since September 2012, a number of "Windsand" operations have been conducted, during which a total of 2,760 Mainlanders and 17 Hong Kong residents were arrested for suspected involvement in parallel goods trading. Of these, 227 Mainlanders were prosecuted for breach of conditions of stay and one is under investigation, while the remaining 2,532 people were repatriated. Among those prosecuted, 217 were sentenced to imprisonment for between four weeks and three months, while charges were withdrawn for the other 10 people.
"Visitors are not allowed to take 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 Immigration Department spokesman said.
The spokesman warned that it is an offence for illegal immigrants or people who are the subject of a removal order or a deportation order to take any employment or to establish or join in any business. Offenders are liable to a maximum fine of $50,000 and up to three years' imprisonment. The Court of Appeal has issued a guideline ruling that a sentence of 15 months' imprisonment should be applied in such cases.
The spokesman appealed to employers not to employ illegal workers, warning that it is an offence to employ people who are not lawfully employable. The maximum penalty is a fine of $350,000 and imprisonment for three years. It is also an offence if an employer fails to inspect the job seeker's identity card or, if the job seeker does not have a Hong Kong permanent identity card, his or her valid travel document. The maximum penalty for failing to do so is a fine of $150,000 and imprisonment for one year. To deter unlawful employment, the High Court laid down sentencing guidelines in 2004 reaffirming that it is a serious offence to employ someone who is not legally employable, and stating that the employer of an illegal worker should be given an immediate custodial sentence.