Recently, the Labour Department has revoked the employment agency (“EA“) license of Lifree Employment Agency Limited (“Lifree”) and reminded operators of EAs to conduct their business in compliance with the law and the requirements of the Code of Practice (“Code“) for EAs at all times. This has been the third case of revocation of an EA license in 2023.
The basis of such revocation stems from sections 53(1)(c)(iva) and 53(1)(c)(v) of the Employment Ordinance (“EO“) – the Commissioner for Labour (“Commissioner“) may revoke the licence of an EA if she is satisfied that the licensee concerned has not complied with the Code, or the licensee concerned is not a fit and proper person to operate an EA. In the current case, Lifree failed to meet the requirements set out in the Code, including failing to ensure that any information that is made available to employers or to job seekers is consistent with the facts made known to it, failing to include all required items in the service agreements drawn up with employers, failing to provide payment receipts to employers, etc. In addition, Lifree was considered not a fit and proper person to operate an EA.
It may be helpful to note that section 53(1) of the EO also lists out various grounds (including the ones mentioned above) on which the Commissioner may revoke a licence, such as a contravention of any provisions of Part XII of the EO (i.e. the section on Employment Agencies) or any regulation made under section 62 of the EO, such as overcharging job seekers or operating an EA without a licence. Any person aggrieved by a decision of the Commissioner taken in respect of him under section 53(1) may, within 28 days after he is notified of the decision, appeal to the Administrative Appeals Board.