Hong Kong's 2022 Employment Support Scheme (ESS) opens for applications: FAQs

Hong Kong's 2022 Employment Support Scheme (ESS) opens for applications: FAQs

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The first batch of successful applicants can expect to receive the handout from early May.

A new round of Employment Support Scheme (ESS) is set to open for application starting 29 April 2022, and the first batch of successful applicants can expect to receive the handout from early May.

Eligible employers will receive up to HK$8,000 wage subsidies per month for each eligible employee for a period of three months, i.e. May, June and July 2022, while eligible self-employed persons can also apply for a one-off subsidy.

Dr Law Chi-kwong, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, said at a press conference on Monday (25 April 2022) that the subsidies will help businesses restore their confidence to rebound from the pandemic and increase job opportunities for full-time and part-time workers as the local epidemic situation eases with the relaxation of social distancing measures and the recent handing out of a new round of consumption vouchers.

It's worth noting that there will be no more monthly salary cap for employees eligible for the wage subsidy and companies will be allowed to flexibly change the number of employees for each subsidy month in response to evolving market conditions. However, employers will have to return the relevant amount of subsidy and pay a penalty if they fail to employ sufficient number of employees during the subsidy period.

Here's some key information about the scheme.

When to apply

From 29 April 2022 at 8:00 am to 12 May 2022 at 11:59 pm.

Subsidy period

May, June, and July 2022 (three months).

Who is eligible

 Employer Self-employed person 
  • Should apply in the capacity of a company/ corporation/ organisation/ natural person;
  • Is not an employer listed in Part I of the Exclusion List;
  • Must have participated in MPF Schemes or set up ORSO Schemes on or before 31 December 2021;
  • Has not been involved in winding up, deregistration or striking-off process, or has not become dormant; and
  • Has fully settled all clawback/penalty of 2020 Employment Support Scheme (if any) on or before 10 May 2022.
  • Should apply in an individual capacity as a self-employed person;
  • Must have successfully created an MPF 'self-employed person' account (MPF SEP account) on or before 31 December 2021, and have not terminated the account at the time of application; and
  • If an eligible self-employed person has more than one MPF SEP account, only one application can be submitted.

How to apply

  • Only online application is accepted.
  • Applicants should duly complete and submit the online application form and upload the necessary documents.
  • Employer applicants with applications approved in the 2020 ESS are required to submit applications by using their 2020 ESS application number and business registration number.
  • Applicants will receive notification by email and SMS message upon successful submission of the online application form and an application number and a password will be issued. Applicants may log onto the 2022 ESS website to check the application status and results anytime.

Subsidised quota and maximum subsidy amount

Subsidised quota will be divided into three categories, the subsidy amount will be calculated based on the monthly wage of applicants’ records in the 'reference month':

 Monthly wage in 'reference month' (HKD)Monthly subsidy amount (for each employee)
Full subsidy quotaHK$8,000 or moreHK$8,000
Half subsidy quotaAt least HK$3,000 but less than HK$8,000HK$4,000
Elderly subsidy quotaEmployees aged 65 or above with less than HK$3,000HK$4,000

Sector-specific cap

 Max no. of employees eligible for subsidies in each subsidy month
Applicants’ declared core business belongs to sectors in the Restricted List100
Other applicants1,000 

When to disburse subsidies

The employers’ wage subsidies will be paid in four tranches. Applicants will be notified of their application results via SMS and email. If approved, the subsidy will be credited to the applicant’s bank account listed in the application form.

 1st tranche100% of subsidies of May 2022
 2nd tranche100% of subsidies of June 2022
 3rd tranche70% of subsidies of July 2022
 4th tranche30% of subsidies of July 2022 after deducting subsidies to be returned to the Government and penalties to be paid (if any)

Employers’ undertaking and penalty

In each subsidy month, applicants shall undertake to:

  • Employ sufficient number of employees;
  • Spend all the wage subsidies received for that month during the subsidy period on paying wages to employees in the same month.

The Secretariat and the government-appointed agent may conduct further reviews and randomly verify the information submitted by employer applicants, and conduct on-site audits at the employer organisation during and after the vetting process of an application.

If applicants are unable to fully fulfil the above undertaking in any month within the subsidy period, apart from returning the relevant subsidy amount, they are also required to pay a penalty equivalent to 10% of the subsidy amount to be returned.

For more details, please visit the 2022 ESS website.

Image / HKSAR Government

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