14 April 2016
A territory-wide enforcement operation codenamed "Twilight" and a joint operation with the Hong Kong Police Force and the Labour Department codenamed "Champion" were mounted yesterday (April 13) 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, a garbage collection point, a warehouse and units under renovation. Three illegal workers comprising one man and two women aged 21 to 42 were arrested. Among them, the man was a holder of a recognisance form, which prohibits him from taking up any employment.
During operation "Champion", enforcement officers raided five target locations including warehouses and a logistics centre in Kwai Tsing District. Nine illegal workers comprising six men and three women aged 23 to 46 were arrested. Among them, three men were holders of recognisance forms, which prohibit them from taking up any employment. In addition, one man and one woman were suspected of using and being in possession of forged Hong Kong identity cards. Two women aged 29 and 47 were suspected of employing the illegal workers.
"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 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 up 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 also warned that it is an offence to use or possess a forged Hong Kong identity card or a Hong Kong identity card related to another person. Offenders are liable to prosecution and a maximum penalty of a $100,000 fine and up to 10 years' imprisonment.
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. On March 31 this year, a local employer was convicted of aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring the breach of conditions of stay at Sha Tin Magistrates' Courts and was sentenced to two months' imprisonment for employing an illegal worker to work in his restaurant.