The government is reviewing regulations covering insurance coverage after a court ruling in 2003 resulted in nearly $1 million in compensation being paid to the widow of an illegal worker earlier this year. Paying compensation to illegal workers and their families for workplace injuries is wrong because it conflicts with the policy of combating illegal employment, a minister said yesterday. Labour laws should be amended to stop such payouts, Secretary for Economic Development and Labour Stephen Ip Shu-kwan said. In July 2003, a court granted $948,405 from the Employees Compensation Assistance Fund to the widow of an illegal worker who was killed while demolishing a wall at a Shekkipmei construction site in April 2002. 'This is a precedent that we don't think we need in Hong Kong because it is against the policy of combating illegal workers,' Mr Ip said. The Employees' Compensation Ordinance does not explicitly exclude illegal workers and their families from seeking damages for work-related injuries or death. Mr Ip said he had discussed possible amendments with the Department of Justice. He said the bureau would consult the Labour Advisory Board for its consent and would then submit amendments to Legco. Poon Siu-ping, a fund board member and vice-chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong and Kowloon Unions, said the fund was processing three similar cases worth more than $1.3 million in compensation and the courts were handling five other cases. 'The major source of illegal workers is their employers. The government should tighten enforcement, prosecution and punishment of their employers to cut the source,' he said. 'The government has to be very careful with the amendments because the implication could be huge. Behind the idea of protecting local workers, it may also change the rights of all employees.' Under existing law, employers of illegal workers face a maximum penalty of three years in jail and a $350,000 fine. Workers face two years' jail and a $50,000 fine. The Employees Compensation Assistance Fund Board is financed by a levy imposed on all employee compensation insurance policies taken out by employers, providing a safety net for injured employees or family members of deceased workers.