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Effective today, 31 August, Hong Kong businesses can now apply for the second phase of the government’s Employment Support Scheme (ESS).

Applications will close on 13 September 2020.

A total of 168,799 applications were received for the first tranche of the ESS – of which 88% of applications (148,500) were approved. For the 11% or so of rejected applications, the reason was mainly based on:

  • Without Eligible MPF accounts: Accounts set up on or after 1 April 2020 or terminated before 31 March 2020
  • Zero wage subsidy: Employers made no MPF contributions for employees in the ‘specified month’
  • Incomplete or Inaccurate Information

Important Information for the second tranche of the ESS

The Hong Kong Government announced the eligibility, application procedures, timeline, and the calculation method of the second tranche on 19 August 2020 for companies that:

Eligibility

  • have been making MPF contributions for employees aged between 18 and 64,
  • have been participating MPF Scheme in respect of employees aged 65 or above, or
  • have set up an ORSO scheme (occupational retirement scheme) for its employees

Duration

The second tranche subsidy covers from September to November 2020 (three months in total).

Payment of the subsidy

The subsidy will be paid to an eligible employer within three to four weeks after the employer applies. Businesses will receive emails directly from the government – similar to the first tranche application process.

Amount

Eligible employers applying for the second tranche of the EES can select any month between December 2019 and March 2020 as the ‘specified month’. The government will use the number of employees and their respective relevant income for MPF voluntary contribution in the specified month to determine the amount of subsidy payable to the business.

Calculation Method

For a detailed breakdown of the calculation method, click here.

How to apply

An HKSARG portal (www.ess.gov.hk/en/) will be set up for online application for 2nd tranche ESS which will be in operation from 31 August 2020 to 13 September 2020. Please submit the ESS application form via the HKSARG portal during the said application period.

Note that bank account information is not allowed to change for the second tranche.

Supporting documents

Your company’s business registration information, MPF scheme information and latest company bank statement (must contain company name and bank account number).

Employer obligations

An eligible employer who applies for and receives the subsidy will be required to give two commitments:

  • Not to make any redundancies during the period of the subsidy, and
  • To spend all the subsidy received on paying wages to its employees. The employer may not use the subsidy for any other purpose, including paying non-cash benefits to employees.
  • The government will claw back the unspent balance of the subsidy if the employer fails to use all the subsidy received for a particular month to pay wages for that month.

Note that penalties will apply for non-compliance.

Key dates

2nd Tranche  Date
MPF accounts set up: On or before 31 March 2020
Application opens: 31 August 2020 to 13 September 2020
Specified month: Any one month from December 2019 to March 2020
Reference month of headcount check: 31 March 2020
Payment date: October or after (Depends on Government’s release)

Extra information provided by Links International