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One Vietnamese illegal worker jailed and one Hong Kong resident employer jailed for employing illegal worker
     A Vietnamese illegal worker holding a recognisance form and a Hong Kong resident employer were jailed at Shatin Magistrates' Courts yesterday (September 22).

     During an anti-illegal worker operation mounted on June 30, Immigration Department (ImmD) investigators arrested a female Vietnamese illegal worker aged 59 in a washroom in a shopping mall at Wong Tai Sin. When intercepted, she was cleaning the washroom. Upon identity checking, she produced for inspection a recognisance form issued by the ImmD, which prohibits her from taking employment, and further investigation revealed that she was a non-refoulement claimant.

     The illegal worker was charged at Shatin Magistrates' Courts yesterday with taking employment after landing in Hong Kong unlawfully and remaining in Hong Kong without the authority of the Director of Immigration. After the trial, she was sentenced to 15 months' imprisonment.

     ImmD investigators received a referral from the Hong Kong Police Force earlier in August to further investigate an illegal employment case. Enforcement officers arrested one Indian male holding a recognisance form issued by the ImmD, which prohibits the holder from taking up employment, for taking up garbage collecting work in Kwun Tong. He was charged on August 19 and was sentenced to 15 months' imprisonment. Meanwhile, the Hong Kong resident employer was also charged as he had not inspected the identity document of the Indian male or made further enquiries to ascertain whether he was lawfully employable prior to employment. The Hong Kong resident employer pleaded guilty to the charge of being an employer of a person who is not lawfully employable and was sentenced to two months' imprisonment at Shatin Magistrates' Courts yesterday.

     The spokesman warned that, as stipulated in section 38AA of the Immigration Ordinance, illegal immigrants or people who are the subject of a removal order or a deportation order are prohibited from taking any employment, whether paid or unpaid, or establishing or joining in any business. Offenders are liable upon conviction 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 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.
Ends/Friday, September 23, 2016
Issued at HKT 17:20
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