The Hong Kong government has just announced that its Employment Support Scheme (ESS) — aimed at helping employers cover workers’ wages during the Covid-19 pandemic, will now remove its salary cap. As a result, an estimated 440,000 more employees can now be covered.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam said authorities had revised the scheme from last month.
Previously, the government would only subsidise the wages of workers who earned less than HK$30,000 a month, but with the new amendments, this salary threshold has been dropped. The monthly subsidy amount will remain at 50 percent of workers’ salaries, capped at HK$8,000.
“We took into account society’s views and the severity of the pandemic, and also some industries including small to medium enterprises and IT start-ups - who told us they don’t have many workers but salary is relatively high… so we agreed,” Lam said on Thursday. “The 2022 ESS will not have a salary cap.”
First introduced in 2020, the scheme was launched to help employers pay staff, especially in industries hardest hit by pandemic-related closures.
Since then it has provided financial support to employers who pledged to keep a certain number of employees proportionate to their payroll.