Tougher sentences proposed to tackle illegal workers employment

Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Issue 538, Page 4
Word count: 431
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

Employers who hire non-local labourers to work in different companies other than the ones being allowed in their work permits could be fined up to 10,000 patacas for each employee involved as proposed by the standing committee of the Legislative Assembly.

The Third Standing Committee continued deliberation of the draft of the foreign labour law yesterday in which president Cheang Chi Keong said aspects about penalties of illegal workers employment were focused.

In Article 33 of the work paper prepared by the standing committee, it was suggested that employers who hired imported labourers to work in companies other than the ones stated in their blue cards (work permits) should be fined from 5,000 patacas to 10,000 patacas for each illegal worker involved.

The original copy of the draft submitted by the government early this year proposed a fine of 3,000 to 15,000 patacas for the same offence but would only be applied to skilled workers.

Meanwhile, Mr Cheang said if companies hired non-local workers without government approvals, each worker could cost the employers a fine of 10,000 patacas to 20,000 patacas.

Also, if companies hired illegal workers and at the same time without government permission to recruit non local people, Mr Cheang said they could be jailed for up to three years according to the law in relation to illegal immigration, illegal stay and deportation which the standing committee was also trying to amend.

At present the law gives a two year imprisonment term to employers who establish labour relationships with non-local people without legal documents to work in Macau.

As Mr Cheang said the SAR government was determined to reinforce the strength in combating illegal workers employment, it was agreed that “more defined and harsher penalties” should be adopted for different kinds of employment.

Companies which hire non-local people without blue cards could serve a maximum three years in jail, while repeat offenders could be sentenced between two and eight years, the standing committee proposed.

As well, companies that hire imported labourers with expired blue cards could serve up to six months in prison, and repeat offenders could be handed out a three year jail sentence.

However, Mr Cheang said the final draft of the foreign labour law would not include articles that gave alternative penalties such as probation and fine to offenders as such decision “should be made by court”.

As Mr Cheang said a number of members were concerned about the execution of sentencing illegal workers employment, the standing committee will hold another meeting on Thursday in which government representatives will attend and clear out doubts of lawmakers.

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