ENG

PR

We provide useful and diverse information for overseas expansion.

미래전략 연구소2020-04-27T17:52:49+09:00

Hong Kong Employment Support Scheme (ESS) Frequently Asked Questions

Date
2020-05-22 12:40
Objectives

1. What is Employment Support Scheme?

The Employment Support Scheme (“ESS”) will provide time-limited financial

support to employers to retain their employees who may otherwise be made

redundant. Employers who participate in ESS must provide an undertaking not

to implement redundancy during the subsidy period and to spend all the wage

subsidies on paying wages to their employees. ESS will also provide a one-off

lump-sum subsidy to self-employed persons (SEPs) who have a Mandatory

Provident Fund (MPF) account.
Eligibility

2. Can employers of all industries apply for ESS?

Generally speaking, with the exception of ineligible employers (see QA 3), all

employers who have been making MPF contributions for employees (including

Master Trust Schemes and Industry Schemes) or who have set up MPFexempted

Occupational Retirement Schemes Ordinance (ORSO) schemes,

regardless of industries, may apply for ESS.

● For employers participating in MPF schemes, it should be noted that the

MPF accounts of the relevant employers and employees applying for the

first tranche of wage subsidy1 should have been set up on or before 31

March 2020 (i.e. cannot be backdated to that date or any earlier dates).

In other words, employers with the MPF accounts set up on or after 1

April 2020 will not be eligible.

● For employers who have set up MPF-exempted ORSO Schemes, the

employees covered in the application must have become members of

the relevant ORSO schemes on or before 31 March 2020 (i.e. cannot be

backdated to that date or any earlier dates).

3. Which employers and organisations are not eligible for ESS?

The following employers are not eligible for ESS:

● Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government,

Legislative Council of the HKSAR, The Judiciary of the HKSAR;

● The Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the HKSAR,

the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the

1 Wage subsidy for June to August 2020.

People’s Republic of China in the HKSAR, and the Hong Kong Garrison

of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army;

● Offices of other governments and international organisations;

● Specified statutory bodies;

● Specified public organisations, government-owned companies or

subvented organisations.

Please refer to the Annex for the above list of employers. Besides, 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 (include applications being

processed or approved) is also not eligible.

Moreover, employers cannot apply for wage subsidies in respect of the

following types of employees as their salaries are subsidised by the

Government:

(a) employees in government-funded organisations whose salaries are fully

funded by the Government; and

(b) dedicated staff engaged by outsourced government services

contractors/consultants to provide services for these contracts

4. QA (3) mentions that government-funded staff employed by outsourced government service contractors/consultants are not eligible for ESS. If these staff work for other private project(s) at the same time, can the employer apply for ESS in respect of these staff?

Given that these outsourced government service contractors /consultants will

continue to receive contract payments from Government, dedicated staff

engaged for implementing or delivering government contracts will not be eligible

for application. In cases where some of the staff are not working solely for the

relevant government contracts but working for other private contract(s) at the

same time, as their salaries are not fully funded by the Government, the

company may apply for ESS subsidy in respect of these staff provided that it

has made MPF contributions for the relevant staff or set up MPF-exempted

ORSO schemes.

5. Can a qualified employer apply for wage subsidies for all employees in the company/organization?

Generally speaking, employers can apply for wage subsidies in respect of

employees in the following categories:

(a) "regular employees" 2 under the Master Trust Schemes and

Industry Schemes, for whom MPF mandatory contributions have

been made by their employers; and

(b) employees aged 65 or above under the Master Trust Schemes and

Industry Schemes.

It should be noted that employers cannot apply for wage subsidies in respect

of “casual employees”3 under the Master Trust Schemes and Industry Schemes.

This is because casual workers are highly mobile and rarely have fixed

positions in the same company. Providing wage subsidies to these employers

can hardly achieve the objective of ESS. Such employees may benefit from

other government support schemes. For example, qualified registered

construction workers may benefit from the Development Bureau’s sectorspecific

scheme under which each worker will receive a one-off lumpsum

subsidy of $7500.

Employers who have set up MPF-exempted ORSO schemes (including ORSO

registered schemes or ORSO exempted schemes) can apply for wage

subsidies in respect of employees who are members of their ORSO schemes.

Moreover, employers cannot apply for wage subsidies in respect of the

following types of employees as their salaries are subsidised by the

Government:

(a) staff in government-funded organisations whose salaries are fully

funded by the Government; and

(b) dedicated staff engaged by outsourced government services

contractors/consultants to provide services for these contracts.

6. Can self-employed persons (SEPs) apply for ESS?

A one-off lump sum subsidy of $7500 will be granted to SEPs who have set up

an MPF account on or before 31 March 2020 (i.e. cannot be backdated to that

date or any earlier dates), which has not been terminated as of 31 March 2020.

However, the following persons are not eligible for ESS:

2 An employee who is at least 18 but under 65 years of age and has been employed for a continuous

period of 60 days or more.

(Reference: www.mpfa.org.hk/eng/main/glossary/index.jsp)

3 An employee who is at least 18 but under 65 years of age, and is 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.

(Reference: www.mpfa.org.hk/eng/main/glossary/index.jsp)

(a) Freelancers who provide school bus services as school bus drivers,

school private light bus drivers and escorts (commonly known as

"nannies") and have applied for the subsidy under the "School Bus

Service Providers Subsidy Scheme" of the Education Bureau; and

(b) Freelancers who are tour service coach drivers and have applied

for the subsidy under “Tour Service Coach Drivers (Mainly Serving

Tourists) Support Scheme” of Tourism Commission.

In addition, if the same SEP has more than one MPF account, he/she may

only apply once for a one-off lump-sum subsidy of $7,500 under ESS.

Programme Details

7. When will applications open and subsidies disbursed?

Wage subsidies will be disbursed in two tranches to employers. The first

tranche of subsidies will open for application from 25 May to 14 June 2020. It is

expected that most employers 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.

The second tranche of subsidies will be disbursed in September 2020. We will

announce the application details in due course.

The application period for SEPs will also be from 25 May to 14 June 2020, and

the one-off lump sum subsidy will be disbursed in three to four weeks after

application.

8. Is it necessary for employers participating in MPF schemes to obtain their MPF contribution records from MPF trustees when they submit application for ESS to facilitate the calculation of subsidies by the Government?

To streamline administrative procedures and to avoid possible delays and

omissions when submitting MPF information, employers applying for ESS are

required to authorize the following parties when submitting their online

applications:

(a) the ESS processing agent (appointed by the Government) to serve as

their agent to receive the certificates on the relevant MPF records

(including the number of employees and their wages) issued by MPF

trustees; and

(b) MPF trustees to provide the ESS processing agent (as their agent) with

MPF record certificates to verify the information related to their MPF

contributions.

With the applicants’ authorisation, the MPF trustees will forward the MPF record

certificates in electronic format to the ESS processing agent direct. Applicants

may also request their MPF trustees to provide such certificates for reference.

9. How to calculate the amount of wage subsidy for the employers who participate in ESS?

Employers participating in MPF schemes

Employers applying for the first tranche of subsidy can choose any one month

from December 2019 to March 2020 as the “specified month”. The number of

employees and their respective wages in the “specified month” will serve as the

basis for calculating the subsidies:

● “Regular employees” aged between 18 and 64

o The amount of wage subsidies will be calculated based on 50%

of the actual wages paid to each “regular employee” aged 18-64

in the “specified month”, with a wage cap at $18,000 per month.

The maximum wage subsidy per employee is $9,000 per month.

● Employees aged 65 or above

* If employers have provided information on the basic salaries of

employees aged 65 or above when making MPF voluntary

contributions for them, the amount of wage subsidies will be

calculated based on 50% of the basic salaries actually paid to the

relevant employees in the “specified month”, with a wage cap at

$18,000 per month per employee. The maximum wage subsidy

per employee is $9,000 per month.

*If employers have not provided information on the basic salaries

of individual employees when making MPF voluntary

contributions for them, the amount of wage subsidies will be

calculated by multiplying the amount of employers’ voluntary

contribution for the relevant employees in the “specified month”

by 10 times, with a cap at $9,000 per month per employee.

Green minibus and local ferry operators who have applied for ESS wage

subsidies in respect of their employees aged 65 or above are not allowed to

apply, in respect of the same employees, for subsidies under the subsidy

scheme of the Transport Department specifically designed for green minibus

and ferry operators employees aged 65 or above, so as to avoid double benefit.

If an employer has made MPF contributions for both “regular employees” aged

18-64 and employees aged 65 or above, he/she must choose the same

“specified month” for calculating subsidies in respect of all employees.

Employers who have set up MPF-exempted ORSO schemes

In the first tranche, employers applying for the Scheme can nominate any one

month between December 2019 and March 2020 as a “specified month”. The

amount of wage subsidies will be calculated based on 50% of the actual wages

paid to each employee in the “specified month”, with a wage cap at $18,000 per

month. The maximum wage subsidy per employee is $9,000 per month.

Examples illustrating how to calculate the ESS subsidy

Example 1: If an employer has only contributed to MPF:

Company A has chosen January 2020 as the “specified month”

January 2020: 20 employees hired, total salary: $300,000

Number of Employees     Monthly Wage per employee     Government Subsidies per employee

10                                         $20,000                                          $9,000

10                                         $10,000                                           $5,000

Total monthly wage subsidies:

($9,000 x 10) + ($5,000 x 10) = $140,000

The first tranche subsidy amount: $420,000 (i.e. the total subsidy amount for three months from June to August 2020)

$140,000 x 3 months = $420,000

Example 2: If an employer has made MPF contributions and has set up MPF exempted ORSO scheme for different employees at the same time:

Company B has chosen January 2020 as the “specified month”

January 2020: 30 employees hired, among which 20 employees joined MPF scheme with total salary of $300,000; 10 employees joined ORSO scheme with total salary of $200,000.

(a) Amount of subsidy for employees joining MPF scheme:

Number of Employees     Monthly Wage Per employee     Government Subsidies per employee

10                                         $20,000                                           $9,000

10                                         $10,000                                           $5,000

Total monthly wage subsidies:

($9,000 x 10) + ($5,000 x 10) = $140,000

(b) Amount of subsidy for employees joining ORSO scheme:

Number of Employees     Monthly WagePer employee     Government Subsidies per employee

5                                           $30,000                                         $9,000

5                                           $10,000                                         $5,000

Total monthly wage subsidies

($9,000 x 5) + ($5,000 x 5) = $70,000

The first tranche subsidy amount (i.e. the total subsidy amount for three months from June to August 2020)

($140,000x 3)+ ($70,000 x 3) = $630,000

10. Can the employer make changes to the MPF contribution data for December 2019 to March 2020?

A snapshot of individual employer’s MPF contribution data for December 2019

to March 2020 was taken on 7 May 2020, which will be used for calculating

wage subsidies. No changes to the relevant MPF contribution data will be

allowed for the purpose of ESS.

Employers may only apply for wage subsidies in respect of employees for

whom default mandatory contributions (excluding surcharge) have been settled

on or before 7 May 2020.

11. Can the employer apply for ESS in respect of an employee who is on no-pay leave?

Employers may choose any one month from December 2019 to March 2020 as

the “specified month”. The subsidies will be calculated based on the number

of employees (including employees who were in the job but are currently on nopay

leave or half-pay leave) and their respective wages in the “specified month”.

After the application has been approved, the number of paid employees

(excluding employees on no-pay leave) in any one month of the subsidy period

between June and August 2020 cannot be less than the total number of

employees in March 2020 (which may include employees on no-pay leave), and

the employer should spend all the wage subsidies for June, July and August on

paying wages to their employees in June, July and August correspondingly.

Therefore, employees hired by the employer (whether full-time or not) during

the subsidy period will benefit.

12. Is there an upper limit on the subsidy amount received by each employer?

There is no upper limit on the total amount of subsidies that each employer can

receive. However, only 50% of the actual wage can be claimed for each

employee at a maximum subsidy of $9,000 per month. Eligible employers

participating in ESS must provide an undertaking not to implement redundancy

during the subsidy period (based on number of employees on March 2020) and

to spend all the wage subsidies on paying wages to their employees.

13. What undertaking must an employer make when applying for ESS? What penalties will be imposed on employers who have violated the undertaking?

When making online applications, employers should also provide an

undertaking:

(a) not to make redundancies during the subsidy period; and

(b) to spend all the wage subsidies on paying wages to the employees.

For an employer who has received the first tranche of payment, if he/she fails

to use all the wage subsidies received for a particular month during the threemonth

subsidy period (i.e. June to August 2020) to pay the wages of his/her

employees in the same month, the Government will claw back the unspent

balance of the subsidy.

Furthermore, if the number of employees on the payroll in any one month of the

subsidy period is less than the number of paid or unpaid staff in March 2020,

the employer will have to pay a penalty to the Government. Details will be

announced early next week.

Applicants will be legally liable for making false statements.

14. What monitoring work will be done by the Government to prevent abuse or violations?

The Government will establish appropriate monitoring and assessment

mechanisms under ESS to screen and follow up on cases involving abuse and

violations. Besides, the Government will adopt a transparent approach to let the

society and employees monitor, including announcing the list of employers who

have received subsidies, the total number of employees benefited and the

amount of subsidies. As such, employees concerned and members of the

public will get to know which employers have received subsidies. Should an

employer be found to have violated the conditions of ESS, employees

concerned or members of the public may report to relevant authorities.

15. Are employers not allowed to reduce wages during the subsidy period under ESS?

ESS does not forbid employers from reducing employees’ wages during the

subsidy period, but we certainly expect that employers would refrain from

reducing wages as far as possible. However, given that the business situation

varies among employers, and some enterprises have been hard hit by the

epidemic, we consider it necessary to allow flexibility to cater for their business

operation. We hope that employers would refrain from reducing wages as far

as possible, and would maintain their business operation on the one hand,

retaining the jobs for employees on the other.

16. If employers do not have plans to reduce pay or lay off employees, can they use the wage subsidy on employee benefits or for charitable purposes?

Employers must spend all the government’s wage subsidies on paying wages

to their employees and cannot use them for other purposes, including non-cash

benefits for employees or donation.

17. What if I still have questions?

If you have any questions, starting from 13 May at 9am, you can make enquiries

through the following channels:

Email: enquiry@employmentsupport.hk; or

Telephone hotline: 1836-122

The service hours of the hotline are:

 Monday to Friday - 9am to 6pm

 During the application period (from 25 May 2020 to 14 June 2020):

Monday to Sunday - 9am to 6pm.

We will announce the application method and other details of ESS early next

week.

Organisations excluded from the Employment Support Scheme

1. The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

(HKSAR)4 2. the Legislative Council of the HKSAR5 3. the Judiciary

of the HKSAR

The Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the HKSAR, the

Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the

People’s Republic of China in the HKSAR, the Hong Kong Garrison of the

Chinese People’s Liberation Army

Offices of other Governments and International Organisations

1. Consulates-General and Honorary Consulates in Hong Kong

2. Offices of the six Officially Recognised Bodies in Hong Kong -

 Bank for International Settlements - Representative Office for Asia

and the Pacific

 Office of the European Union to Hong Kong

 Hague Conference on Private International Law - Asia Pacific

Regional Office

 International Finance Corporation Regional Office for East Asia and

Pacific and the World Bank Private Sector Development Office for

East Asia and Pacific

 International Monetary Fund - Hong Kong SAR Sub-Office

 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Sub-Office

Statutory bodies (staffed primarily by government employees)

Specified statutory bodies and corporations

(staffed entirely or primarily by non-government employees)

1. Airport Authority Hong Kong

2. Board of Management of the Chinese Permanent Cemeteries

3. City University of Hong Kong

4. Competition Commission

4 Include Executive Council

5 Include Legislative Council (LegCo) Secretariat and LegCo Members (in the

capacity as employer of staff whose remuneration is fully funded by Office Operation

Expenses Reimbursement or Entertainment and Travelling Expenses Reimbursement)

5. Construction Industry Council

6. Consumer Council

7. District Councils6

8. Employees Compensation Assistance Fund Board

9. Employees Retraining Board

10. Equal Opportunities Commission

11. Estate Agents Authority

12. Financial Reporting Council

13. Fish Marketing Organization

14. Guardianship Board

15. Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts

16. Hong Kong Arts Development Council

17. Hong Kong Baptist University

18. Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health

19. Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority

20. Hong Kong Export Credit Insurance Corporation

21. Hong Kong Housing Society

22. Hong Kong Productivity Council

23. Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation

24. Hong Kong Trade Development Council

25. Hospital Authority

26. Independent Commission Against Corruption

27. Independent Police Complaints Council

28. Insurance Authority

29. Lingnan University

30. Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority

31. Occupational Deafness Compensation Board

32. Occupational Safety and Health Council

33. Office of the Ombudsman

34. Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data

35. Pneumoconiosis Compensation Fund Board

36. Prince Philip Dental Hospital

37. Property Management Services Authority

38. Securities and Futures Commission (including its subsidiary Investor and

Financial Education Council)

39. The Chinese University of Hong Kong

40. The Education University of Hong Kong

41. The Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational

Qualifications

6 Include District Council (DC) Chairmen, Vice-chairmen and Members (in the

capacity as employer of staff whose remuneration is fully funded by Operating

Expenses Reimbursement or Miscellaneous Expenses Allowance)

42. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

43. The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

44. The MTR Corporation Limited

45. The Trust Funds and Temples Joint Secretariat

46. The University of Hong Kong

47. The Vocational Training Council

48. Urban Renewal Authority

49. Vegetable Marketing Organization

50. West Kowloon Cultural District Authority

Specified public organisations, government-owned companies or

subvented organisations

1. Aided, caput and Direct Subsidy Scheme primary and secondary

schools

2. AsiaWorld Expo

3. Aviation Security Company Limited

4. Beat Drugs Fund Association

5. Duty Lawyer Service

6. Financial Dispute Resolution Centre

7. Financial Services Development Council

8. Hong Kong Academy for Gifted Education

9. Hong Kong Academy of Finance Limited (including its subsidiary

Hong Kong Institute for Monetary and Financial Research)

10. Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute

Company Limited

11. Hong Kong Cyberport Management Company Limited

12. Hong Kong Design Centre

13. Hong Kong Education City

14. Hong Kong FMI Services Limited

15. Hong Kong Internet Registration Corporation Limited

16. Hong Kong Note Printing Limited

17. Hong Kong Tourism Board

18. Kindergartens under the kindergarten education scheme

19. Kwoon Chung Inclusive and Accessible Transport Services Co Ltd

20. Logistics and Supply Chain MultiTech R&D Centre Limited

21. The Hong Kong Mortgage Corporation Limited (including its

subsidiaries)

22. The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel Limited

23. The Hong Kong Sports Institute

24. The Nano and Advanced Materials Institute Limited