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LCQ2: General Employment Policy

     Following is a reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Ambrose S K Lee, to a question by the Hon Ip Wai-ming in the Legislative Council today (November 30):


     Regarding the application for importation of foreign labour under the "General Employment Policy" of the Immigration Department ("ImmD"), will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the number of such applications received by ImmD in each of the past five years; among them, of the number of those approved and its percentage in the total number of applications; whether there were applicants who had been given approval to enter into Hong Kong for employment in the past but when they applied again for entry into Hong Kong for employment or extension of the duration of stay in Hong Kong, they were not given approval to enter into Hong Kong or continue to stay and work in Hong Kong because their employers were able to recruit suitable staff locally to take up the positions;

(b) of the vetting and approving procedures adopted by ImmD upon receipt of the applications concerned, and whether consultation with the relevant government departments and trade unions is included in such procedures; if so, how their views would be considered; whether it has assessed the capacity of the local labour market in absorbing the additional labour; how it establishes that such positions cannot be readily taken up by local employees; whether the employers concerned are required to provide sufficient training for local employees with a view to transferring to them the skills required for these positions; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; whether it has any plan to review the existing vetting and approving procedures to ensure that local workers are given priority in employment; and

(c) whether the authorities had conducted any inspection in the past five years to find out the situation of those persons from overseas who were granted entry into Hong Kong for employment after their arrival; if they had, of a breakdown of the number of inspections by year and job category; if not, the reasons for that; whether they have any plan to enhance the existing monitoring mechanism, including increasing the number of surprise inspections and the penalties for breaches, etc.?



     The objective of the General Employment Policy ("GEP") is to allow local employers to recruit professionals not readily available in Hong Kong to meet their manpower needs.  In general, professionals seeking to apply to work in Hong Kong under the GEP shall meet three main criteria:

(1) having a good education background, normally a first degree in the relevant field;

(2) having a confirmed offer of employment and are employed in a job relevant to their academic qualifications or working experience that cannot be readily taken up by local professionals; and

(3) the remuneration package is broadly commensurate with and not inferior to the local prevailing market level.

     Employers shall submit relevant information and documentary proof for the applications, including details of the positions concerned, remuneration package and the reasons why the positions cannot be filled by local professionals.

     In processing applications under the GEP, the Immigration Department ("ImmD") will strike an appropriate balance between upholding priority employment of the local workforce as an important policy measure and admitting needed professionals to Hong Kong.

     The reply to the three parts of the question is as follows:

(a) The statistics of applications under the GEP for the past 5 years are at the table below:

Year        No.of         No.of          Approval
            applications  applications   rate
            received      approved
----        ------------  ------------   --------
2007          28,696          26,384       92%
2008          28,454          26,466       93%
2009          22,253          20,988       94%
2010          29,121          26,881       92%
2011          28,096          26,018       93%

     The ImmD does not maintain statistics on the number of applications that had been approved previously but were subsequently refused upon new applications or applications for extension of stay.

(b) In processing the applications, the ImmD requires applicants to submit proof of educational qualifications, working experience and professional qualifications.  The ImmD will verify the authenticity of the documents submitted accordingly. At the same time, the ImmD will vet the information provided by employers, including the nature of business, the operational status, the number of employees and the ratio of local and non-local employees, etc. Employers are also required to provide justifications for employing the concerned applicants and to furnish proof on reasons for failing to recruit professionals locally. If the ImmD needs further information on the manpower situation of the relevant markets, employers will be required to provide recruitment details and documentary proofs, including the recruitment advertisements published, the number of local applicants, the record of recruitment interviews and results, etc. Employers are also required to provide a copy of the employment contract to show that the applicant is recruited on a remuneration package that commensurates with the prevailing local market level.  Besides, the ImmD will make reference to the statistics prepared by the Census and Statistic Department and information provided by relevant professional bodies.  The ImmD will also consult the Labour Department, other government departments or relevant professional bodies on individual cases as necessary to ensure that applications are in line with the objective of the GEP.

(c) As I have explained in the reply to part (b), the ImmD will ensure that applications are in full compliance with the stated policy and eligibility criteria in processing each application.  It is the responsibility of both the applicants and employers to provide full and correct details to the ImmD.  According to the Immigration Ordinance, any person who provides false information or makes false statement in making an application is liable on summary conviction to the maximum penalty of a fine of $100,000 and imprisonment of two years. Regarding the approved cases, the ImmD had received 28 complaints in the past five years but none of the cases was found to be in breach of the GEP requirements. Besides, in assessing applications, the ImmD will verify the case information by appropriate means. In the past five years, the ImmD had conducted inspections on 37 applications of which two cases were subject to prosecution.

Ends/Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Issued at HKT 15:59


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