People wearing face masks throng a footbridge in Wan Chai, Hong Kong, in the morning of May 4, 2022. (CALVIN NG / CHINA DAILY)
HONG KONG – The new round of Employment Support Scheme started off with a warm response on its first day of the two-week application period, with 87,000 applications from employers and self-employed people received on Friday.
The scheme was first launched in 2020 to provide employers with subsidies to help them retain staff who might have become redundant for the employers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We hope that, with this Employment Support Scheme, people will be able to scale up their operations and create more employment for our labor force.
Law Chi-kwong, Secretary for Labour and Welfare
“The response yesterday, the first day of application, was quite earnest,” Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong told reporters on Saturday.
“I would say that people are eager to apply for it, with close to 50,000 applications from employers just within one day,” he said.
READ MORE: HK$120b relief package to put city back on track
The online application portal for the new round of the scheme was launched at 8 am on Friday. It has been operating smoothly, according to the government.
Apart from 49,000 applications from the employers, the government also received around 38,000 applications from the self-employed on Friday, according to Policy Innovation and Coordination Office Head Doris Ho Pui-ling.
The scheme allows employers to claim wage subsidies for each eligible staff member for three months, covering May to July this year.
There are two tiers of subsidy rates — a flat rate of HK$8,000 per month for each eligible employee with a monthly income of HK$8,000 or more; and a flat rate of HK$4,000 per month for each employee with a monthly income of between HK$3,000 and HK$8,000; or each employee aged 65 or above earning less than HK $3,000 per month.
Policy Innovation and Coordination Office Head Doris Ho Pui-ling (second right) learns about the operation of the 2022 Employment Support Scheme's service center in Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong, April 29, 2022. (PHOTO / HKSAR GOVERNMENT)
The scheme will also provide a one-off subsidy of HK$8,000 to eligible self-employed people.
When asked by reporters to what extent the scheme would improve the city’s job market, Law said they have already seen impacts in the past couples of weeks.
“When we started to announce the intention of setting up the Employment Support Scheme, we have already seen some actions in the market, where people started to rethink about the continuity of their business and the planning of resuming their business after the relaxation of the social distancing measures,” Law said.
ALSO READ: HK's jobless rate rises to 5.0%
“We hope that, with this Employment Support Scheme, people will be able to scale up their operations and create more employment for our labor force,” he added.
The program will accept applications through May 12, with the first batch of payments expected to be disbursed around early May.
Around 1.6 million employees and 140,000 self-employed people are expected to benefit from the program.