Gov’t to review penalties proposed for illegal workers employment

Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Issue 545, Page 2
Word count: 498
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The standing committee and the government had yesterday completed the first round of deliberation on the draft of the foreign labour law, which will be followed by a review and possible amendments mainly on penalties for illegal workers employment.

President of the Legislative Assembly’s Third Standing Committee, Cheang Chi Keong, said discussion between lawmakers and the government representatives including Shuen Ka Hung, the director of the Labour Affairs Bureau based on the first version of the work report of the draft had ended.

The standing committee will continue meetings until after the government sends in the revised work report for further discussion.

Mr Cheang said amendments had to be made in relation to the government’s “policy orientation”.

Although a three-year or a six-month jail sentence for employers who hire non-local people without work permits or with expired work permits are proposed in the draft, both lawmakers and the government were concerned about the difficulty in proving the illegal workers were employed by the suspect.

It was because, Mr Cheang said, no employment contracts were usually signed and salaries were paid in cash.

“Despite the government’s objective to crack down on the use of illegal workers in Macau, at the same time the jail sentences proposed aren’t too lenient, but if it’s not going to work effectively, an adjustment will still be needed,” the standing committee president said.

On the other hand, Mr Cheang said the standing committee hoped the government could review the penalties outlined for illegal workers as they were less severe than those in the existing regulation.

At present, an illegal worker can be fined 5,000 to 20,000 patacas and also be refrained from engaging in any labour activities in Macau for two years under the Prohibition of Illegal Employment Regulations.

However, in the draft of the foreign labour law the fine is set at from 5,000 patacas to 10,000 patacas, and illegal workers were prohibited from entering into Macau for a period of six months to two years.

According to Mr Cheang, the government was preparing an administrative regulation to complement the foreign labour law after it was to be passed.

The administrative regulation will impose a six month interval for a non-local worker who wishes to work in another company in Macau.

That means if they resign from the original company, they have to leave Macau after the employer cancels their work permit, and only come back when the new company has obtained another work permit for them.

Mr Cheang said lawmakers suggested to the government to put the six-month restriction as part of the foreign labour law instead of in the form of an administrative regulation.

The Standing Committee will now have to wait for the second version of the work report from the government.

Mr Cheang said they had to submit the final draft of the law to the Legislative Assembly on December 20 at the latest, in the hope that the law could be passed before the end of this year.

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