The Hong Kong Government has launched a third round of financial support to aid employers retain their current employees, or even employ more staff, as part of its continued Anti-epidemic Fund measures. Eligible employers can receive subsidies of up to HKD8,000 per employee for three months whilst eligible self-employed applicants can receive a one-off payment. The Employment Support Scheme 2022 eligibility criteria and application process are largely the same as for the initial scheme launched in 2020. The application process opens today, 29 April, and runs until 12 May 2022.
- must have participated in Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) or set-up Occupational Retirement (ORSO) Schemes on or before 31 December 2021;
- is not listed in Part 1 of the Exclusion List (including Government organisations, consulates, universities);
- is not involved in winding up, deregistration or striking-off process, or has not become dormant; and
- has fully settled all clawback/penalty payments relating to the 2020 ESS by 10 May 2022.
- should apply in an individual capacity as a self-employed person;
- must have successfully created an MPF ‘self-employed person’ account on or before 31 December 2021, and have not terminated the account at the time of application; and
- where an eligible self-employed person has more than one MPF ‘self-employed person’ account, only one application can be made.
Subsidy structure and calculations
Employers can choose the reference month against which the MPF/ORSO wage records are referenced to calculate the subsidies. Where employers successfully applied for ESS 2020 subsidies, the same reference month can be used, or if preferred, a month between October to December 2021 can be chosen if it provides a higher wage subsidy. New applicants must select a reference month from the above period.
The wage subsidies fall into three categories, with the subsidy amount calculated against the referenced monthly wage:
- Full subsidy – HKD8,000 for each employee with wages o HKD8,000 per month or more
- Half subsidy – HKD4,000 for each employee with wages of at least HKD3,000 but less than HKD8,000 per month
- Elderly subsidy – HKD4,000 for each employee aged 65 or above with wages of less than HKD3,000 per month
The maximum number of employees eligible for the subsidies is 1000 per employer, unless the employer applicant’s core business belongs to sectors in the Restricted List, such as pharmacies, property management firms and supermarkets, which are limited to 100 employees.
Obligations and penalties
Eligible employers participating in ESS 2022 will be required to provide an undertaking –
- not to make redundancies during the subsidy period (therefore the number of employees must not decrease during the subsidy period); and
- to spend all the wage subsidies on paying wages to the employees.
The Government may conduct reviews and random on-site audits of the employers to verify the information submitted.
Where an employer is unable to fulfil the undertaking in any month within the subsidy period, they will be required to return the relevant subsidy amount and, in addition, pay a penalty equivalent to 10% of the subsidy being returned.
The application portal is open from 29 April to 12 May 2022.
Where successful, the employers’ wage subsidies will be paid in four tranches directly into the applicant’s bank account.
- 1st tranche – 100% of subsidies for May 2022
- 2nd tranche – 100% of subsidies for June 2022
- 3rd tranche – 70% of subsidies for July 2022
- 4th tranche – 30% of subsidies for July 2022 minus any subsidies to be returned/penalties (if any)
For more details, please see the 2022 ESS website.
Marbury offer a comprehensive payroll solution to employers in Hong Kong.
With respect to ESS, Marbury can assist to assess the company’s eligibility for the subsidy and to make the application to the government.
For further information please contact any member of the Marbury team or firstname.lastname@example.org.