IMPORTATION OF LABOUR

Supplementary Labour Scheme (SLS)

The SLS allows employers with genuine difficulties in finding suitable staff locally to import workers at technician level or below. However, to ensure the priority of local workers in employment and to safeguard their salaries and benefits, employers must accord priority to fill available job vacancies with local workers and make active efforts to train up local workers for the vacancies. Administered by the Labour Department, the SLS operates on two cardinal principles:

  1. local workers must be given priority in filling job vacancies available in the job market; and
  2. employers who are genuinely unable to recruit local workers to fill their job vacancies can be allowed to import workers.

Safeguards have been in place under the SLS to ensure that employers do provide job offers to local workers first before their applications for imported workers will be processed further. If an employer breaches any statutory provision (including the Employment Ordinance, the Employees' Compensation Ordinance and the Immigration Ordinance), any provision of the standard employment contract or any condition of the SLS, the employer concerned may be subjected to administrative sanction resulting in withdrawal of approval for labour importation. Subsequent SLS applications for importation of workers will be barred for two years counting from the relevant date.

Imported workers under the SLS are required to be paid at least median monthly wages of local workers in comparable positions and be accorded no less favourable treatment as that enjoyed by local workers under the labour laws. As the statutory minimum wage becomes effective on 1 May 2011, the amount of wages offered must be in compliance with the statutory minimum wage requirements. They are only allowed to work for the employers and in the positions, and for the duration of employment as stipulated under their employment contracts, and they must return to their place of origin on expiry of their contracts.

Under the SLS, the approval granted to an employer to import workers would not be automatically renewed. An employer who wishes to continue employing imported workers upon the expiry of their contracts are required to submit an application afresh to the Labour Department, and the application will be considered on its own merits.

There are no industry-specific quotas under the SLS. All applications are considered on a case-by-case basis. To ensure priority of employment to local workers, each application has to go through the newspaper advertising procedure, a mandatory local recruitment period at the Labour Department, and the arrangement of tailor-made retraining courses by the Employees Retraining Board if appropriate. The SLS is being monitored by the Labour Advisory Board. The Government will seek Board member's advice on each application before deciding approval or otherwise.

Successful employers are required to pay a levy that goes to the Employees Retraining Board to provide training for local workers. The levy payable in a lump sum in respect of each imported worker is $400 multiplied by the number of months covered by the employment contract up to a maximum of 24 months. It will be collected after the approval for importing workers and before the issue of visa/entry permit as directed by the Director of Immigration. The levy is not refundable under any circumstances.

For enquiry, you may contact the Supplementary Labour Division of the Labour Department at 2150 6363.