Law for non-resident employment might boost border crossings

The Law for the Employment of Non-Resident Workers (TNR), which is currently before the Legislative Assembly’s (AL) Third Standing Committee for discussion, seems to be on an unusual path toward meeting its stated objectives.

According to the government’s initial proposal, the bill aims to amend the current law in force to ban visitors on tourist visas from seeking jobs in Macau.

In fact, and according to the information provided yesterday after the meeting of the Standing Committee chaired by lawmaker Vong Hin Fai, the new law would only require that the applicants, when entering Macau for work, are already in possession of a working permit that needs to be requested from the Labour Affairs Bureau (DSAL) by their employers.

As Vong explained, the government did not opt for the requirement that non-resident workers should arrive in Macau from their original country, as “they might be working or staying in a different country before coming to Macau,” only requiring that when the application is made by the employer, they are not in the region and they will only arrive in Macau with the document already processed by their employer.

“At that time, they will get a red stamp on their passport that will work as a temporary working permit, having then 45 days to process the Blue Card at the immigration department,” Vong explained, noting that this process would reduce the number of times TNR need to go to the Immigration Department to process their working permits from two to just one.

Questioned by the media as to how this method would, in fact, prevent people holding tourist visas from applying for jobs in Macau, Vong hinted that it would not, admitting that, in practical terms, people would “probably come to Macau for a work interview and after that […] have to leave, only reentering when the work authorization had been approved and sent to them outside Macau.”

If the measure is likely to produce little to no effect concerning the search for a job by holders of tourist visas, the same does not apply to border crossings, since the workers need to wait for the processing of their authorization outside of Macau.

Another of the changes of this proposed new system is that the TNR would not need to present a criminal record certificate when applying for jobs in Macau, as the preliminary authorization can be processed by the employer with only a copy of the worker’s passport, instead of the original document.

Questioned on the topic, Vong explained that dropping the requirement of a criminal record certificate was related to the validity of the document. As he noted, to be effectively valid in light of international conventions, such documents needed to be certified by Chinese embassies or consulates, which could incur delays and many issues due to the great complexity of the process.

Another aspect noted by Vong is that the new law suggests that the entry stamp from the temporary working permit effectively marks the start of the employment relationship between the employer and the employee, noting that in cases in which a TNR is then rejected by the employer for any reason, it is the employer who is responsible for the worker’s repatriation cost. He did not explain what would happen in the event that the worker does not arrive in Macau from the country of which he or she is a national.

According to the president of the Third Standing Committee, and since there are several aspects still under consideration by the government, it “won’t be possible to finish the discussion of the committee on time to go to plenary discussion until August 15 (the end of this legislative year), so we already asked for an extension of this discussion after the legislative holidays.”
Vong also reaffirmed that after the discussion by the committee and AL plenary’s final approval, and upon publication within the government’s Official Gazette, the law will enters into force only after 90 days. It is therefore not expected to be enforced this year.

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