The Tel Aviv Regional Labor Court on Wednesday fined a company which sends
Israeli employees to foreign countries NIS 30,000 for failing to get one of its
employees, Sivan Hiyun, a work visa in Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong
authorities arrested Hiyun for not having a proper work visa.
was arrested, Hiyun worked in a store which sold clocks and jewelry in Hong
The ruling was unusual as it dealt with the obligation of an
Israeli company, R. Subkorno Ltd., to reimburse its employees for damages caused
to the employees in a foreign country by a foreign government.
premise of fining the defendants was that even if it were the foreign government
who directly arrested and “damaged” Hiyun, the Israeli employer was responsible
for the damage, caused by its failure to ensure Hiyun had a proper work
The court held that where part of the Israeli company’s business is
to send its employees overseas, the employer, not the employee, has an
obligation to ensure the employee will not encounter any problems with a foreign
In opening its opinion, the court uncharacteristically
complained that the two sides were so “at war” over the facts of the case that
they had not even been able to agree on what day Hiyun started working and on
what day she returned to Israel.
The court said that the gap between the
parties in virtually every factual area made it difficult for the court to
ascertain what had happened and to arrive at a final ruling.
started to work for the company sometime between May 1 and June 11, 2007. The
parties agreed that at some point, the company asked Hiyun to travel on its
behalf to work in Hong Kong.
However, the company said the arrangement
was temporary and just as a regular employee, whereas Hiyun said that she was
being sent to be a long-term store manager.
The court ultimately believed
Hiyun, finding that her contract, and her working more than 10 hours per day and
six days per week indicated that she was a full-time and significant enough
employee for the company to have an obligation to get her a proper work
Hiyun was arrested on December 13, 2007 when she presented the Hong
Kong immigration police with a work visa which they said was invalid.
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