Three women from the Philippines were sentenced by the Shatin Magistrates’ Courts to jail sentences ranging from six weeks to 14 months last week for illegally working in Hong Kong.

On April 24, the three women, aged 34 to 52, were arrested by Immigration Department officers during an anti-illegal worker operation in a restaurant in Central on Hong Kong Island. One of those arrested claimed she had applied for refugee status, while the other two were foreign domestic workers, according to a statement on a government website.

A local person was also arrested for allegedly hiring the three Filipinos, who were charged on April 26 with taking employment unlawfully in Hong Kong. The refugee claimant, who should have been deported, was accused of staying in the city illegally, while the two domestic workers were charged with breaching the conditions of their stay by taking up unapproved employment in Hong Kong.

They pleaded guilty to the charges in the court and were jailed from six weeks to 14 months.

According to Hong Kong law, 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 HK$50,000 (US$6,369) and up to three years’ imprisonment.

Foreign domestic workers who take up unapproved employment in Hong Kong can be jailed for up to two years and fined HK$50,000. The maximum penalty for a person convicted of employing illegal workers in the city is imprisonment for three years and a fine of HK$350,000.