The Hong Kong Government has now launched a dedicated Employee Support Scheme (ESS) website and published more details regarding eligibility and the application process.

Background

As outlined in our update of 11 May 2020, the ESS is part of the Government's second round of Anti-epidemic Fund measures to help  businesses stay afloat and keep workers in employment. All employers who have been making Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) contributions or have set up Occupational Retirement Schemes (ORSO schemes) for employees are eligible.

Under the ESS, eligible employers can received a subsidy calculated based on 50% of the actual wages paid to employees at a “specified month” (being any one month from January to March 2020 to be nominated by the employer) with a wage cap at HKD18,000 per month (i.e. the maximum subsidy is HKD9,000 per month per employee) for six months.

Please see our summary of the updated details below.

Eligibility

All employers who have been participating in MPF or ORSO schemes will be eligible to apply for wage subsidies in respect of the following categories of employees:

  • Regular employees (between the age of 18-65 and have been employed for a continuous period of 60 days or more)
  • Employees aged 65 or above

Employers cannot apply for wage subsidies in respect of casual employees (between the age of 18-65 employed in the construction industry or the catering industry on a day-to-day basis, or for a fixed period of less than 60 days).

Employers not eligible for ESS include the HKSAR government and offices of other governments and international organisations, statutory bodies and corporations as well as public organisations, government-owned companies or subvented organisations. Also, those self-employed persons and those employers who have applied for an industry-specific subsidy scheme are not eligible under the ESS, i.e. a licence holder who has submitted application for the Catering Business (Social Distancing) Subsidy Scheme in respect of the licensed premises covered by the relevant business registration certificate (including applications being processed or approved) is not eligible.

In order to be eligible for the first tranche, the MPF or ORSO accounts of employers and employees should have been set up on or before 31 March 2020.

Timeline

Online applications for the first tranche of subsidies will open from 25 May to 14 June 2020. It is expected that most employers who have been making MPF contributions will receive the wage subsidy in three to four weeks after application, which can subsidise their payment of staff wages from June to August 2020. For applications involving ORSO schemes, a longer processing time may be required.

The second tranche of subsidies will be disbursed in September 2020, application details have yet to be announced by the government.

Obligations

Eligible employers participating in ESS will be required to provide an undertaking –

  • not to make redundancies during the subsidy period (therefore the number of employees must remain the same during the subsidy period); and
  • to spend all the wage subsidies on paying wages to the employees.

Information required

  1. Business Registration Number
  2. Name of the MPF Trustee
  3. Name of the MPF Scheme
  4. Number of eligible employees
  5. Actual wage of each employee in the specified month (any one month between December 2019 and March 2020)
  6. A bank statement of the employer making the contributions (the bank account name will need to match the employer name)

For further information, see the government ESS website.

Marbury services

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 info@marburys.com.