Hong Kong resident employer jailed for employing illegal worker

2 December 2016

A Hong Kong resident employer who employed an illegal worker was jailed at Shatin Magistrates' Courts yesterday (December 1).

Immigration Department (ImmD) investigators earlier received a referral from the Hong Kong Police Force to further investigate an illegal employment case. Enforcement officers arrested a 24-year-old male Vietnamese cleaning dishes in a restaurant in Fo Tan. Upon identity checking, he produced for inspection a recognisance form issued by the ImmD, which prohibits him from taking employment and further investigation revealed that he is a non-refoulement claimant. A Hong Kong resident employer of the illegal worker was also arrested.

The illegal worker was jailed by Shatin Magistrates’ Courts earlier. The Hong Kong resident employer was charged at Shatin Magistrates' Courts yesterday with being an employer of a person who is not lawfully employable as he had not inspected the identity document of the illegal worker and taken practicable steps to ascertain whether he was lawfully employable prior to employment. He pleaded guilty to the charge and was sentenced to two 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.