SCMP Saturday, May 27, 2000

Students told to beware job traps


Students looking for temporary work this summer have been warned of traps that could leave them out of pocket and in conflict with employers.

The number of students seeking temporary work is set to rise after the Certificate of Education exams finish, and "most students have little experience when it comes to job-seeking", the Labour Department's senior labour officer (employment and promotion), Catherine Chan Tak-ching, said.

"They must be very cautious. Some employers will take advantage of their eagerness to find a job and set traps," she said.

Ms Chan said students should be wary of dubious recruitment advertisements, especially those offering attractive pay but requiring few skills or qualifications. They should decline jobs involving unlawful or immoral practices, and ensure they understand contract terms before signing.

Students should be careful about employers demanding cash payments or monetary guarantees for training or investment purposes. If in doubt, they should take advice, she said.

The department's senior labour officer (labour relations promotion), Susanna Chan Ka-kit, said workers on summer jobs were entitled to benefits and protection under the Employment Ordinance, as long as they had worked 18 hours a week for the same employer for four weeks running. "They should know clearly the salary, sick leave and holidays they are entitled to."

She said students should take extra care when accepting work involving the lifting of heavy goods or contact with machinery or hot surfaces. It is illegal for untrained people under 18 to work on construction sites. Last year saw nine industrial accidents involving student workers, three of which involved hot surfaces and two the use of machinery.

Detective Senior Inspector Henry Chiang Kwok-wah, of the Crime Prevention Bureau, said students should prepare for employment traps as fraud cases had surged in the past two years. The number of reported cases in the first quarter of the year stood at 1,007 compared with 816 in the first quarter of last year and 624 in 1998. In 1998 and 1999 there were 2,705 and 3,423 cases respectively.