Israeli company fined for lack of Hong Kong visa

TA court fine company NIS 30,000 for failing to get one of its employees, Sivan Hiyun, a work visa in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Bobby Yip)
Hong Kong 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Bobby Yip)
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.
Until she was arrested, Hiyun worked in a store which sold clocks and jewelry in Hong Kong.
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.
The 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 visa.
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 state’s policies.
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.
Hiyun 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 visa.
Hiyun was arrested on December 13, 2007 when she presented the Hong Kong immigration police with a work visa which they said was invalid.