Hong Kong resident employer jailed for employing illegal workers

18 October 2016

A Hong Kong resident employer who employed two illegal workers was jailed at Shatin Magistrates' Courts yesterday (October 17).

Immigration Department (ImmD) investigators earlier received a referral from the Hong Kong Police Force to further investigate an illegal employment case. Enforcement officers arrested two male Indians, aged 25 and 28, conducting garbage collecting works in Tai Po. Upon identity checking, they produced for inspection recognisance forms issued by the ImmD, which prohibit them from taking employment. Further investigation revealed that they are non-refoulement claimants. They were arrested for suspected of taking illegal employment and the trial is ongoing.

The Hong Kong resident employer involved was charged with two counts of being an employer of a person who is not lawfully employable at Shatin Magistrates' Courts yesterday. He pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced to a total of three months' imprisonment.

The ImmD 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. 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.