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Around 160,000 employers, 1.6mn employees, and 140,000 self-employed persons are estimated to benefit from the enhanced measures.

In order to provide timely financial support for the businesses affected by the fifth wave of the epidemic, the Hong Kong government has announced the launch of a new round of Employment Support Scheme (ESS) on 18 March 2022, as well as the enhanced version of the 2022 Employment Support Scheme on 7 April 2022 after collecting and considering the views of various parties.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the funding application was passed by the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council (LegCo) on Tuesday (12 April 2022) for an injection of HK$43bn into the Anti-Epidemic Fund (AEF) to implement the 2022 ESS.

According to the refined version of the 2022 ESS, the enhancement measures include:

  • Removing the monthly salary cap (of HK$30,000) for employees eligible for the wage subsidy;
  • Allowing employers to choose either the 2020 ESS data or the fourth quarter of 2021 for setting the number of headcounts eligible for the wage subsidy;
  • Allowing the industries that are less affected by the fifth wave of the epidemic to apply for the wage subsidy, with 100 employees as the cap;
  • Covering part-timers, temporary staff, as well as self-employed persons, and employees aged 65 or above, with Mandatory Provident Fund accounts.
    • Per Links International's post, employers can apply for part-time and freelance staff earning HK$3,000 to HK$8,000 monthly, but the subsidy amount will be halved to HK$4,000. For the other categories, each company will receive a fixed amount of HK$8,000 per month over a period of three months for each eligible full-time employee. The number of employees eligible for the subsidy per company will be capped at 1,000.

"The new round of the ESS aims to support the businesses affected, directly or indirectly, by this wave of the epidemic, particularly those small and medium-sized ones, through providing time-limited (i.e. May to July 2022) wage subsidies to help them retain their existing staff or even hire more staff to boost their business," said Lam in the press release.

Around 160,000 employers, 1.6mn employees, and 140,000 self-employed persons are estimated to benefit from the enhanced support measures.

The scheme is likely to be open for application in late April with a view to disburse payments to the first batch of successful applicants in early May. Lam stressed that the implementation of the 2022 ESS will uphold the principles of simplicity and user-friendliness throughout the application process.

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Image / HKSAR Government

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