LegCo approves HK$43b funding for latest Employment Support Scheme
The Legislative Council on Tuesday approved pumping HK$43 billion into the anti-pandemic fund in order to launch a new round of the updated Employment Support Scheme.
Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong expected the registration for the scheme will open in late April and workers would receive the subsidies as soon as May.
The scheme aims to provide financial assistance to employers in paying workers' salaries so that they need not to fire workers because they cannot afford to pay salary.
Under the scheme, each full-time worker will receive HK$8,000 salary subsidy for three months between May and July and each company can apply for the subsidy for at most 1,000 workers.
The government has made some changes to the scheme this time, including canceling the HK$30,000 salary cap on employees, allowing non-full-time workers to apply for a 50 percent wage subsidy, and covering self-employed individuals as well as employees aged 65 or above with a mandatory provident fund account.
Law expected about 1.6 million workers will benefit from the scheme this time. He continued that employers could file their applications with the number of employees they quoted in the last round of the scheme two years ago or the employee numbers updated as of the fourth quarter last year.
The labor chief added that authorities will not distribute the subsidies on a real-name basis, as lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee suggested. However, authorities will verify employees' mandatory provident accounts to ensure the subsidies will be used to pay employees' wages.
As for the last round of the scheme in 2020, about 80 percent of enterprises kept hiring a particular number of employees as promised.
The government has taken action and sought compensation from employers who failed to keep the promise. About 90 percent of HK$1.6 billion worth of subsidies has now been recovered.