The Hong Kong government announced on 18 March 2022 its plan to launch a new round of Employment Support Scheme (ESS). The 2022 ESS, which aims to support eligible employees by providing three months of wage subsidies to their employers, is expected to benefit approximately 1.1 million to 1.3 million employees.
The details of the 2022 ESS as we know so far are as follows:
- Eligibility: Eligible employers will exclude government and statutory bodies, public institutions, as well as those in industries that are not adversely affected by the fifth wave of the COVID-19 outbreak, such as large supermarkets, convenience stores and pharmacies, property management companies and real estate developers, banks and other financial institutions, delivery services and telecommunication companies that employ more than 50 employees.
In the 2020 ESS, only employers who had been making contributions to the Mandatory Provident Fund Scheme or the occupational retirement scheme were eligible to claim for subsidy. We have no information if this requirement will remain applicable in the 2022 ESS.
- Subsidy Period: The subsidy will apply for three months from May 2022 to July 2022.
- Payment of the subsidy: The subsidy will be paid to an eligible employer.
- Amount of subsidy: A fixed amount of HK$8,000 per month for each full-time employee whose monthly salary is less than HK$30,000.
The government intends to set a cap on the number of eligible employees an eligible employer may claim wage subsidy for under the 2022 ESS. The initial proposal is that the cap could be based on the number of employees the employer had received subsidy for under the 2020 ESS. For example, if the employer had successfully applied and received subsidy for 1,000 employees in 2020, the number of eligible employees in 2022 may not exceed that number. The government may also limit the number of eligible employees of a large-sized enterprise claiming for wage subsidy.
- Undertakings: An eligible employer must not employ less than the number of eligible employees they have applied and received subsidy for during the Subsidy Period, and must spend all the wage subsidy received on paying wages to the relevant eligible employees only.
- Application: The government targets to invite application in April 2022.
The government will consult the relevant stakeholders and announce the details of the 2022 ESS in due course.
See below for the latest government press releases on the 2022 ESS:
- news.gov.hk - Govt to launch job aid scheme (18 March 2022) (English)
- 香港政府新闻网 - 新一轮保就业计划提振企业信心 (news.gov.hk) (18 March 2022) (Chinese)
- 行政长官抗疫记者会开场发言 (18 March 2022) (Chinese only)
- Transcript of remarks of press conference on anti-epidemic measures (with photo/video) (info.gov.hk) (18 March 2022)
You may also want to read: Hong Kong Government Listens to Employers and Enhances the Proposed Employment Support Scheme