Unlicensed employment agency operator sentenced to community service following prosecution

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10th July 2024 – (Hong Kong) In a recent case, a man was prosecuted by the Labour Department (LD) for managing an employment agency (EA) without a valid license, a violation of the requirements outlined in Part XII of the Employment Ordinance (EO). Today, at the Fanling Magistrates’ Courts, the man received a sentence of 120 hours of community service.

The Labour Department initiated the legal action after receiving a complaint in December 2022 from an employer who had been seeking to hire a foreign domestic helper. Subsequent investigations revealed compelling evidence that the accused individual was operating an EA without the necessary license. As a result, the LD proceeded with prosecution.

Part XII of the EO and the Employment Agency Regulations govern all establishments and individuals conducting business in Hong Kong with the purpose of securing employment for others or supplying personnel to employers. Regardless of the nature of the jobs or the mode of operation, all EAs must obtain a license issued by the LD before engaging in any EA activities. It is explicitly prohibited for anyone other than the EA license holder or their associates to operate, manage, or assist in the management of an EA. Violators of these regulations may face legal prosecution.

The LD emphasizes the importance of EAs adhering to the law and the Code of Practice for EAs at all times. Failure to comply may result in prosecution and/or the revocation of their license. The offenses of unlicensed operation of an EA or overcharging commissions from job seekers carry a maximum penalty of a fine of $350,000 and imprisonment for up to three years.

For inquiries related to employment agencies or to report suspected violations, individuals are encouraged to contact the Employment Agencies Administration of the LD. They can be reached via telephone at 2115 3667, email at ea-ee@labour.gov.hk, or in person at Unit 906, 9/F, One Mong Kok Road Commercial Centre, 1 Mong Kok Road, Kowloon.

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