Hong Kong: New initiatives support elderly, low aid, unemployed

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Employment-related developments, including increasing the number of statutory holidays,  were in the “New initiatives on improving people’s livelihood,” released on 14 January by Hong Kong’s government. 

Highlights

  • Reforming the Old Age Living Allowance (OALA) scheme. To improve the retirement system, the government proposed combining the normal OALA and higher OALA with a standard monthly payment rate of HK$3,585 (the monthly payment rate for the higher OALA), and significantly raising the standardised asset limit to HK$500,000.
  • MPF contributions for low-income employees. The government will pay the 5% Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) contributions for low-income employees who are exempt from making MPF contributions.  The proposal will be carried out upon the implementation of the MPF Centralised Platform by the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority in 2024.
  • More statutory holidays. The government will ask the Labour Advisory Board to propose a progressive increase to the number of statutory holidays — currently 12 days — to match the number of public holidays —17 days.  The estimated staff cost of this increase is 1.7%
  • Improved remuneration for non-skilled employees. The Labour and Welfare Bureau will consider further improvement measures for the tendering of government service contracts to enhance remuneration packages and protections for non-skilled employees, and increase the weighting of wage levels in tender assessments to avoid "lowest bid wins." This follows the successful implementation of improvement measures in 2018.
  • Time limited cash allowances for the unemployed and underemployed. Due to the deterioration of economic and employment conditions, from 1 April to 31 March next year, eligible unemployed and underemployed individuals may apply for an additional cash allowance for a maximum of three months. Payment of these allowances is expected to begin in October, at the earliest.

The Financial Secretary is also consulting with the public on the 2020-21 Budget, and will propose measures to "support enterprises, safeguard jobs, stimulate the economy and improve people’s livelihoods.”

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Margie Wong
by Margie Wong

Principal, Mercer Health

Stephanie Rosseau
by Stephanie Rosseau

Principal, Mercer’s Law & Policy Group

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