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Application for the 2nd tranche is closed

The ESS Application Service Portal has been closed. If you have any enquiries, or need to submit further information, please contact the ESS Secretariat via the following channels:

Email: enquiry@employmentsupport.hk
Telephone: 1836 122

FAQ


1. General Information

ESS provides time-limited financial support to employers to retain their employees who may otherwise be made redundant. Employers who participate in ESS must provide an undertaking not to implement redundancy during the subsidy period and to spend all the wage subsidies on paying wages to their employees. ESS will also provide a one-off lump-sum subsidy to persons who have a “Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) self-employed person (SEP) account”.

ESS provides a six-month wage subsidy for eligible employers. The subsidies will be disbursed to employers in two tranches, with the first tranche covering the period from June to August 2020 (application of which had been closed) and the second tranche from September to November 2020.

ESS also provides a one-off lump-sum subsidy of $7,500 to eligible SEPs. Please note that SEPs who have received a one-off subsidy of $7,500 in the first tranche of ESS cannot apply again in the second tranche.

When making online applications for ESS, employers should undertake and warrant that they will –

  1. not implement redundancies during the subsidy period; and
  2. spend all the wage subsidies on paying wages to their employees.

For an employer who has received the second tranche of subsidies, if he/she fails to use all the wage subsidies received for a particular month during the three-month subsidy period (i.e. from September to November 2020) to pay the wages of his/her employees in the same month, the Government will claw back the unspent balance of the subsidy.

Furthermore, if the number of employees on the payroll in any one month of the subsidy period is less than the “committed headcount of paid employees” (i.e. the total number of paid and unpaid employees in March 2020), the employer will have to pay a penalty to the Government (please refer to Section 7 – “Penalty and Monitoring”).

The Government has exempted the wage subsidies received by employers and the one-off lump-sum subsidy received by SEPs under ESS from taxation. That said, wages earned by employees (regardless of whether the wages are subsidised by ESS or fully paid by employers) are treated as income chargeable to salaries tax under the Inland Revenue Ordinance (Cap. 112).

Employers have to make MPF contributions in respect of the wages paid to their “regular employees” (i.e. employees who are at least 18 but under 65 years of age and have been employed in any industry for a continuous period of 60 days or more) under the existing arrangements, regardless of whether the wages are subsidised by ESS or fully paid by the employers.

Employers must spend all the Government’s wage subsidies on paying wages to their employees and cannot use them for other purposes, including non-cash benefits for employees or donations.

Employers must spend all the Government’s wage subsidies from ESS on paying wages to their employees and cannot use them for other purposes, including the retention/deduction of certain portion of the ESS subsidy for making MPF or ORSO schemes contributions.

Employers must spend all the Government’s wage subsidies for a particular month to pay the wages of his/her employees in the same month. While employers can use the subsidies for wage increase or hire of additional manpower, they should not reserve the wages subsidies for future use.

Employers who meet the eligibility criteria may apply for the second tranche of subsidy. The chance of success in applying for the second tranche of subsidy depends on whether employers meet the eligibility criteria.

Yes. Employers who meet the eligibility criteria may apply for the second tranche of subsidy.

Generally speaking, if an employer who has received the wage subsidy under the first tranche of ESS violates the undertaking, the Government will claw back the unspent balance of the subsidy and/ or require the employer to pay a penalty according to the penalty arrangements under the first tranche, but will not reject the employer’s application for the second tranche of subsidy.

Nevertheless, the Government reserves the right to reject an employer's application for the second tranche of wage subsidies if the Secretariat considers that the magnitude of “redundancies made” by the employer in its company/organisation during the subsidy period of the first tranche (i.e. from June to August 2020) was substantial, and the employer fails to prove to the satisfaction of the Secretariat its intention to employ persons to replace those being laid off and/or re-employ those who have been laid off, or there is no reasonable explanations provided for the "redundancies made" by it.

Eligible employers under ESS must have set up MPF accounts or ORSO schemes for their employees. Each employer (company/ corporation/ organisation/ natural person) should submit an independent application by including all of the MPF accounts and/or ORSO schemes in the same application.

If the subsidiary companies/branches of an entity have set up different MPF accounts and/or ORSO schemes for the employees, each subsidiary company/branch should submit an individual application. On the other hand, if a holding company has enrolled the employees in its subsidiary companies/branches into the same MPF account or set up the same ORSO scheme, then the holding company should submit one application only.

Since each employer is regarded as an independent applicant under ESS, the requirement to provide undertakings, calculation of the amount of subsidy and the monitoring and penalty arrangements will apply to individual employers.

The ESS Secretariat has appointed a professional accounting firm to serve as the ESS processing agent, which assists the Government in the implementation of ESS (including design of the online application portal, calculation of the amount of subsidies, and handling public enquiries, etc.), vetting of applications, complaint handling and auditing of applications to prevent abuses.

MPF trustees will issue certificates on the relevant MPF records for employer and SEP applicants who have participated in MPF schemes to the ESS processing agent for subsidy calculation and application vetting. MPF trustees will not be engaged in the vetting of ESS applications.



2. Eligibility

Generally speaking, with the exception of ineligible employers (please refer to Q&A 2.2), employers who have participated in Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) schemes (including the Master Trust Schemes and Industry Schemes) or who have set up MPF-exempted Occupational Retirement Schemes Ordinance (ORSO) schemes (including the ORSO registered schemes or ORSO exempted schemes) (ORSO schemes), regardless of industries, are eligible.

For employers participating in MPF schemes, it should be noted that the MPF accounts of the relevant employers and their employees applying for the second tranche of wage subsidies1 should have been set up on or before 31 March 2020 (i.e. cannot be backdated to that date or any earlier dates). In other words, employers with MPF accounts set up on or after 1 April 2020 are not eligible.


  • 1 Referring to subsidies for the period from September to November 2020.

The following employers are not eligible for applying ESS –

  • the Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), the Legislative Council of the HKSAR and the Judiciary of the HKSAR;
  • the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the HKSAR, the Office for Safeguarding National Security of the Central People’s Government in the HKSAR, the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China in the HKSAR, and the Hong Kong Garrison of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army;
  • offices of other governments and international organisations;
  • specified statutory bodies and corporations; and
  • specified public organisations, government-owned companies or subvented organisations.

The list of employers belonging to the above categories is at Annex.


It should be noted that employers cannot apply for wage subsidies under ESS in respect of “casual employees”2 under the Master Trust Schemes and Industry Schemes, or employees who have applied for the Catering Business (Social Distancing) Subsidy Scheme for licensed premises (including applications being processed or approved). Green minibus and local ferry operators who have applied for ESS wage subsidies in respect of their employees aged 65 or above are not allowed to apply, in respect of the same employees, for the subsidy scheme of the Transport Department specifically designed for green minibus and local ferry operators hiring employees aged 65 or above.


Moreover, employers will receive notification letters from the relevant government departments informing them that they cannot apply for subsidies under ESS in respect of the following types of employees whose wages are fully funded by the Government:

  1. employees in government-funded organisations whose wages are fully funded by the Government; and
  2. dedicated staff engaged by government outsourced service contractors/consultants to implement or deliver these contracts.

Employers may apply for subsidies in respect of those employees whose wages are not fully funded by the Government. The ESS Secretariat will, through the government departments concerned, remind their subvented organisations and outsourced service contractors/consultants of such eligibility criteria in writing regarding the applications for the second tranche of subsidies.


  • 2 The term “casual employees” refers to employees who are at least 18 but under 65 years of age, and are employed in the construction industry or the catering industry on a day-to-day basis or for a fixed period of less than 60 days. (Reference: http://www.mpfa.org.hk/eng/main/glossary/index.jsp)

Employers cannot apply for wage subsidies under ESS in respect of employees who have applied for the Catering Business (Social Distancing) Subsidy Scheme for licensed premises (including applications being processed or approved). After the relevant employers have submitted ESS applications, the ESS processing agent will contact them to request information on the number of their employees who have applied for the Catering Business (Social Distancing) Subsidy Scheme in respect of the licensed premises in the “specified month” and in March 2020 and also the actual wages of these employees in the “specified month”. The actual wages of these employees will not be counted in the calculation of ESS wage subsidies.

Please note that the ESS processing agent reserves the right to approach the relevant government departments for getting access to and checking the information submitted by the applicants for the Catering Business (Social Distancing) Subsidy Scheme during the vetting process so as to verify the particulars declared by the applicants.

Statutory bodies with their day-to-day operations basically run by Government employees are not eligible for ESS.

For statutory bodies whose day-to-day operations are not mainly run by Government employees, if they have hired some but not all employees fully funded by the Government and have received notification letters from the relevant government departments, they may only apply for the subsidies in respect of those employees whose wages are not fully funded by the Government, provided that they have been making MPF contributions or have set up ORSO schemes for these employees (please refer to Section 4 - “Calculation of Subsidy”). Employers need to make a declaration and provide the actual wages of the employees concerned for the purpose of calculating the subsidies.

No. The MPF accounts of employers and employees applying for the second tranche of wage subsidies should have been set up on or before 31 March 2020 (i.e. cannot be backdated to that date or any earlier dates).

Employees of government-funded organisations whose wages are fully funded by the Government are not eligible for the ESS. However, if these organisations have employees whose wages are not fully funded by the Government and that the organisations have been making MPF contributions or have set up ORSO schemes for these employees, they may apply for subsidies in respect of these employees (please refer to Section 4 - “Calculation of Subsidy”). Employers are required to make a declaration and provide the actual wages of the employees concerned for the purpose of calculating the subsidies. Regarding the application for the second tranche of subsidy, the ESS Secretariat will, through the government departments concerned, issue letters to these organisations to remind them of the eligibility of the ESS.

For organisations with individual schemes or projects receiving government funding but have not received the Government’s notification, they can apply for the ESS for employees, for whom they have been making MPF contributions or have set up ORSO schemes.

With the exception of ineligible employers (please refer to Q&A 2.2), all government-funded organisations may apply for the subsidies in respect of those employees whose wages are not fully funded by the Government, provided that they have been making MPF contributions or have set up ORSO schemes for these employees. Employers are required to make a declaration and provide the actual wages of the employees concerned for the purpose of calculating the subsidies. Regarding the applications for the second tranche of subsidy, the ESS Secretariat will, through the government departments concerned, remind such organisations of the above eligibility criteria in writing.

Given that government outsourced service contractors/consultants will continue to receive contract payments from the Government, dedicated staff engaged to implement or deliver government contracts are not eligible for the subsidies. If some of the staff concerned are not working solely for the relevant government contracts but are also working for other private contract(s) at the same time, as their wages are not fully funded by the Government, the government outsourced service contractors/consultants may apply for the subsidies in respect of these staff provided that they have been making MPF contributions or has set up ORSO schemes for the relevant staff (please refer to Section 4 - “Calculation of Subsidy”). Employers are required to make a declaration and provide the actual wages of the employees concerned for the purpose of calculating the subsidies. The ESS Secretariat will, through the government departments concerned, remind such organisations of the above eligibility criteria in writing.

As the employers (subcontractors) have no contractual relationship with the Government, their service fees are paid by the contractors. Provided that the employers have been making MPF contributions or have set up ORSO schemes for their employees, they may apply for the subsidies.

The ESS Secretariat will, through the government departments concerned, remind their subvented organisations and outsourced service contractors/consultants of the eligibility criteria of the ESS in writing, i.e. they can only apply for the subsidy in respect of those employees whose wages are not fully funded by the Government, provided that they have been making MPF contributions or have set up ORSO schemes.

Yes. With the exception of ineligible employers (please refer to Q&A 2.2), all employers who have been making MPF contributions (including the Master Trust Schemes and Industry Schemes) or who have set up ORSO schemes for employees, regardless of industries, are eligible for application.

With the exception of ineligible employers, all employers who have been making MPF contributions (including the Master Trust Schemes and Industry Schemes) or have set up ORSO schemes for employees are eligible. However, employers cannot apply for subsidies under the ESS in respect of the employees who have applied for the Catering Business (Social Distancing) Subsidy Scheme in respect of the licensed premises (including applications being processed or approved) (please refer to Q&A 2.2 and 2.3). Green minibus and local ferry operators who have applied for ESS wage subsidies in respect of their employees aged 65 or above are not allowed to apply, in respect of the same employees, for the subsidy scheme of the Transport Department specifically designed for green minibus and local ferry operators hiring employees aged 65 or above.

With the exception of ineligible employers (please refer to Q&A 2.2 and 2.3), all employers who have been making MPF contributions (including the Master Trust Schemes and Industry Schemes) or have set up ORSO schemes for employees are eligible. It should be noted that employers who have set up ORSO schemes may only apply for wage subsidies in respect of their employees who are Hong Kong Identity Card holders.

All applicants, including those who have been granted wage subsidies in the first tranche of the ESS and those who only apply for the second tranche of the ESS, must declare all MPF schemes participated on or after 1 December 2019. They may submit the relevant information when completing the online application form.

Yes. An SEP who is also an employer may apply for the SEP subsidy for himself/herself and the wage subsidies for employees of his/her company as long as he/she meets the eligibility requirements of the ESS.



3. Undertaking

Employers who participate in the second tranche of ESS are required to undertake –

  1. not to “implement redundancy” during the subsidy period of the second tranche (i.e. from September to November 2020), i.e. the total number of employees on the payroll (excluding those on no-pay leave) in any one month during the subsidy period should not be less than the total number of paid and unpaid employees in March 2020 (i.e. the “committed headcount of paid employees”); and
  2. to spend all the wage subsidies of ESS for a particular month on paying wages to the employees for the same month during the subsidy period.

Applicants of the second tranche of wage subsidy (including employers who have applied for the first tranche of wage subsidy) are required to undertake not to implement redundancy and to spend all the government wage subsidies on paying wages to their employees during the subsidy period when they fill in the online application form.

To cater for different situations of industries and sectors and to avoid disrupting normal business operation, we have allowed certain flexibility, such as not requiring employers to maintain the original wage level of individual employees, when designing the ESS.

However, it should be noted that employers applying for the second tranche of wage subsidies under the ESS are required to undertake that the number of employees on the payroll (excluding those on no-pay leave) in any one month of the three-month subsidy period (i.e. from September to November 2020) must not be less than the total number of paid and unpaid employees in March 2020 (i.e. the “committed headcount of paid employees”). The employers are also required to spend all the wage subsidies on paying wages to their employees in the same month according to the terms and conditions of the ESS, and are not allowed to use the subsidies for any other purposes.

For an employer who has received the second tranche of wage subsidies, if it fails to spend all the wage subsidies received for a particular month during the three-month subsidy period (i.e. from September to November 2020) to pay the wages of its employees in the same month, the Government will claw back the unspent balance of the subsidy for that month.

Furthermore, if the number of paid employees (excluding those on no-pay leave) in any one month of the subsidy period is less than the “committed headcount of paid employees”, the employer will have to pay a penalty to the Government. (Please refer to Section 7 – “Penalty and Monitoring”).

In addition to the above penalties, the Government reserves the right to claw back the second tranche of wage subsidies disbursed to the employer (in full or in part) if the Secretariat considers that the magnitude of “redundancies made” by the employer in its company/organisation during the subsidy period of the second tranche (i.e. from September to November 2020) was substantial, and the employer fails to prove to the satisfaction of the Secretariat its intention to employ persons to replace those being laid off and/or re-employ those who have been laid off, or there is no reasonable explanations provided for the "redundancies made" by it.

For employers participating in MPF schemes, the ESS Secretariat and/or the appointed processing agent will compare the total number of paid employees as shown in the MPF record certificates for each month during the subsidy period (i.e. from September to November 2020) provided by MPF trustees with the total number of employees as shown in the MPF record certificate of March 2020 (regardless of whether they were paid or not) to verify whether an employer has implemented redundancy.


Employers should note that –

  1. If the MPF record certificate of March 2020 shows that an employee had ceased/would cease employment in the month/subsequent months (regardless of whether he was paid or not), the employee will still be counted towards the “committed headcount of paid employees” as a basis for comparing the total number of paid employees during the subsidy period.
  2. In respect of new employees, if an applicant has made MPF contribution for a new employee in March 2020 and such information is shown in the MPF record certificates for the month, the employee concerned will be counted towards the “committed headcount of paid employees” as a basis for comparing the total number of paid employees during the subsidy period (i.e. from September to November 2020). Similarly, if the MPF record certificate in any one month of the subsidy period shows that the applicant has made MPF contributions for new employees, the employees concerned will be counted towards the total number of paid employees in that month.
  3. For employees aged 65 or above with MPF accounts, employers who have received the ESS subsidies should provide the MPF trustees with information on the wages of employees aged 65 or above in their return of remittance statements for their MPF contributions in the subsidy period (i.e. from September to November 2020), so as to prove that wages have been paid to the relevant employees for the months. Otherwise, the employees concerned will not be counted towards the total number of paid employees in those months.
  4. If the MPF record certificates in March 2020 show that the applicants have not settled the default mandatory contributions (excluding surcharge) of some employees on or before 7 May 2020, those employees will still be counted towards the “committed headcount of paid employees” and taken as the basis for comparing the total number of paid employees in the subsidy period.
  5. If the employer has opened an MPF account and set up an ORSO scheme for the same employee at the same time, or if the employer has set up more than one MPF-exempted ORSO scheme for the same employee, this employee will only be counted as one headcount for the purpose of calculating the “committed headcount of paid employees”.

No. Employers who participate in the second tranche of ESS are only required to undertake not to “implement redundancies” and to spend all the wage subsidies of ESS for a particular month on paying wages to the employees for the same month during the subsidy period (i.e. from September to November 2020). Nonetheless, the ESS Secretariat and processing agent will act on complaint and perform sample checking to ascertain if the employees aged 65 or above as shown on employers’ MPF record certificates provided by MPF trustees are actually employed by the applicant. Employers are reminded to provide information on the wages of employees aged 65 or above for the months of September to November 2020 to their MPF trustees for auditing purpose.



4. Calculation of Subsidy

A. Calculation of wage subsidies for the “specified month”

Generally speaking, employers who have participated in Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) schemes can apply for wage subsidies in respect of employees in the following categories:

  1. “regular employees”1 under the Master Trust Schemes and Industry Schemes, for whom MPF mandatory contributions have been made by their employers; and
  2. employees aged 65 or above under the Master Trust Schemes and Industry Schemes.

It should be noted that employers cannot apply for wage subsidies in respect of “casual employees”2 under the Master Trust Schemes and Industry Schemes.

Moreover, employers will be notified by relevant departments in writing that they cannot apply for wage subsidies in respect of the following types of employees as their wages are fully subsidised by the Government:

  1. employees in government-funded organisations whose wages are fully funded by the Government; and
  2. dedicated employees engaged by government outsourced service contractors/consultants to implement or deliver these contracts.

Employers can still apply for wage subsidies for their employees whose wages are not fully funded by the Government (Please refer to Part 2 - “Eligibility”). Regarding the application to the second tranche of wage subsidies, the Employment Support Scheme (ESS) Secretariat has, through the government departments concerned, notified the relevant organisations about the above eligibility.

It should be noted that employers who have applied for the Catering Business (Social Distancing) Subsidy Scheme in respect of the employees in the licensed premises (including applications being processed or approved) cannot apply for ESS wage subsidies in respect of the same employees. In addition, green minibus and local ferry operators who have applied for ESS wage subsidies in respect of their employees aged 65 or above are not allowed to apply, in respect of the same employees, for subsidies under the subsidy scheme of the Transport Department specifically designed for green minibus and local ferry operators hiring employees aged 65 or above.



  • 1 The term “regular employees” refers to employees who are at least 18 but under 65 years of age and have been employed in any industry for a continuous period of 60 days or more. (Reference: http://www.mpfa.org.hk/eng/main/glossary/index.jsp)
  • 2 The term “casual employees” refers to employees who are at least 18 but under 65 years of age, and are employed in the construction industry or the catering industry on a day-to-day basis or for a fixed period of less than 60 days. (Reference: http://www.mpfa.org.hk/eng/main/glossary/index.jsp)

Employers applying for the second tranche of wage subsidies can choose any one month from December 2019 to March 2020 as the “specified month”. Employers who have received wage subsidies in the first tranche of ESS may choose another month as the “specified month” when applying for the second tranche of wage subsidies. The ESS processing agent will calculate the amount of wage subsidies on the basis of the number of employees and their Relevant IncomeNote or wages in the “specified month” as shown on the MPF record certificates of the applicants provided by the MPF trustees:

“Regular employees” aged between 18 and 64

  • The amount of wage subsidies will be calculated based on 50% of the actual wages paid to each “regular employee” aged 18-64 in the “specified month”, with a wage cap at $18,000 per month. The maximum wage subsidy per employee is $9,000 per month.
  • It should be noted that employees on no-pay leave and those whose default mandatory contributions (excluding surcharge) in the “specified month” have not been settled on or before 7 May 2020 will not be taken into account when calculating the wage subsidies.

Employees aged 65 or above who have MPF accounts

  • Employers can apply for wage subsidies in respect of employees aged 65 or above who have MPF accounts, even though the employers have not made MPF voluntary contributions for the employees concerned. The subsidies are calculated as follows:
    • If information on the wages of employees aged 65 and above is shown on the employer's MPF record certificate, the amount of wage subsidies will be calculated based on 50% of the wages actually paid to the relevant employees in the “specified month”, with a wage cap at $18,000 per month per employee. The maximum wage subsidy per employee is $9,000 per month.
    • If information on the voluntary MPF contribution for employees aged 65 and above (but not their wages) is shown on the employer's MPF record certificate, the amount of wage subsidies will be calculated by multiplying the amount of employers’ voluntary contributions for the relevant employees in the “specified month” by 10 times, with a cap at $9,000 per month per employee.
    • If information on the employment of employees aged 65 or above (but not their wages nor MPF contributions made for them by the employer) is shown on the employer’s MPF record certificate, the amount of wage subsidies will be calculated based on the number of such employees aged 65 or above engaged in the “specified month”, with a subsidy of $5,000 per employee per month.
    • If the amount of wage subsidy for any of the employees aged 65 or above calculated based wages or voluntary contributions on the employer’s MPF record certificate is below $5,000 per month, the employers may receive a wage subsidy of $5,000 for each of such employee per month.

If an employer has made MPF contributions for both “regular employees” aged 18-64 and employees aged 65 or above with MPF accounts, the employer must choose the same “specified month” for calculating the wage subsidies in respect of all employees.


  • Note: Relevant Income includes wages, allowances, commissions and bonuses, etc., but does not include non-pecuniary benefits, and severance payments and long service payments under the Employment Ordinance (Cap. 57). For details, please refer to the guidelines on Relevant Income issued by the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority.


An illustration on how to calculate the wage subsidy - An employer has made MPF contributions for “regular employees”

Company A has chosen January 2020 as the “specified month”

January 2020 - 20 employees aged 18-64 hired with a total salary of $300,000

Number of Employees Monthly Wage Per Employee Government Subsidy Per Employee
10 $20,000 $9,000
10 $10,000 $5,000

Total monthly wage subsidies :
($9,000 x 10) + ($5,000 x 10)
= $140,000


The second tranche of wage subsidy (i.e. the total subsidy amount for the three months from September to November 2020): $140,000 x 3 = $420,000



An illustration on how to calculate the wage subsidy - An employer has applied for wage subsidies in respect of employees aged 65 or above with MPF accounts (only their wages are shown)

Company B has chosen December 2019 as the “specified month”

December 2019 - 20 employees aged 65 or above hired

Number of Employees Aged 65 or Above Wages as Shown on the MPF Record Certificate Government Subsidy Per Employee
10 $20,000 $9,000
5 $10,000 $5,000
5 $9,000 $5,000

Total monthly wage subsidies :
($9,000 x 10) + ($5,000 x 5) + ($5,000 x 5)
= $140,000


The second tranche of wage subsidy (i.e. the total subsidy amount for the three months from September to November 2020): $140,000 x 3 = $420,000



An illustration on how to calculate the wage subsidy - An employer has applied for wage subsidies in respect of employees aged 65 or above with MPF accounts (only the amount of voluntary MPF contributions made for them is shown)

Company C has chosen February 2020 as the “specified month”

February 2020 - 15 employees aged 65 or above hired

Number of Employees Aged 65 or Above Amount of Voluntary MPF Contributions as Shown on the MPF Record Certificate Government Subsidy Per Employee
5 $500 $5,000
5 $1,000 $9,000
5 $400 $5,000

Total monthly wage subsidies :
($5,000 x 5) + ($9,000 x 5) + ($5,000 x 5)
= $95,000


The second tranche of wage subsidy (i.e. the total subsidy amount for the three months from September to November 2020): $95,000 x 3 = $285,000



An illustration on how to calculate the wage subsidy - An employer has applied for wage subsidies in respect of employees aged 65 or above with MPF accounts (information on their wages or the amount of voluntary MPF contributions made for them is not shown)

Company D has chosen February 2020 as the “specified month”

February 2020 - 10 employees aged 65 or above hired

The MPF Record Certificate Only Shows the Number of Employees Aged 65 or Above Note Government Subsidy Per Employee
10 $5,000


  • Note: The MPF record certificate does not show the wages of these 10 employees or the amount of voluntary MPF contributions made for them.

Total monthly wage subsidies: $5,000 x 10 = $50,000

The second tranche of wage subsidy (i.e. the total subsidy amount for the three months from September to November 2020): $50,000 x 3 = $150,000

Before approving the second tranche of wage subsidies, the ESS processing agent will request the MPF trustees to provide the monthly MPF record certificates of employers for June and July 2020 (i.e. the first two months of the first subsidy period), in order to ascertain whether the employers had used all the wage subsidies to pay the wages of the employees during the subsidy period by checking against the actual wages and the total number of paid employees indicated in the certificates, and to ascertain whether the total number of paid employees in that month is not less than the “committed headcount of paid employees” (i.e. the total number of paid and unpaid employees in March 2020). For employers with employees whose wages are fully funded by the Government and have received notification letters from the relevant government departments, the applicants should fill in the actual wages and the MPF contributions of each eligible employee for June and July 2020 in the “designated form” for submission when applying for the second tranche of subsidies for consideration by the ESS processing agent together with the MPF record certificates.

The ESS processing agent will take into account the above information to verify whether the employers had used all the wage subsidies to pay the wages of the employees during the subsidy period and whether the total number of paid employees in that month is not less than the “committed headcount of paid employees” (i.e. the total number of paid and unpaid employees in March 2020).

For employers who are in breach of their undertakings during the first subsidy period (i.e. failure to use all the wage subsidies received for a particular month to pay the wages of the employees in the same month and/or total number of paid employees in any one month of the subsidy period is less than the “committed headcount of paid employees”), they have to return the unspent balance of the subsidy and/or pay a penalty to the Government. If the employers’ applications for the second tranche of subsidies are approved, the Government will deduct the relevant amount directly from the subsidies of the second tranche to be granted to them. (Please refer to Section 7 – “Penalty and Monitoring”).

In addition, as the MPF contributions for August 2020 (i.e. the third month of the first subsidy period) will be due on 10 September 2020, the MPF trustees cannot provide the MPF record certificates for that month to the ESS processing agent before the approval of the second tranche of wage subsidies for ascertaining whether the employers are in breach of their undertakings. Therefore, the Secretariat/ESS processing agent will seek to retrieve the subsidy amount that should be returned to the Government and/or collect a penalty from the employers concerned separately after disbursing the second tranche of wage subsidies.


An illustration on the claw back of the first tranche of wage subsidies and/or penalty - An employer has to pay the claw back and penalty to the Government due to the breach of their undertakings in June and July 2020

Company A has chosen January 2020 as the “specified month”

January 2020 - 20 employees hired with a total salary of $300,000

Number of Employees Monthly Wage Per Employee Government Subsidy Per Employee
10 $20,000 $9,000
10 $10,000 $5,000

(a) Wage subsidies of the second tranche to be received by Company A -

Monthly wage subsidies :
($9,000 x 10) + ($5,000 x 10)
= $140,000


Wage subsidies of the second tranche: $140,000 x 3 = $420,000 (i.e. the total amount of subsidies for three months from September to November 2020)



(b) Claw back and penalty to be paid by Company A to the Government for the first tranche of wage subsidies -

Assuming that the total number of employees in March 2020 (i.e. “committed headcount of paid employees”): 20
Applicable penalty percentage (10-49 employees): 20%
The employer receives $140,000 of wage subsidies per month during the first tranche (i.e. from June to August 2020)


The number of paid employees and the total payroll expenses per month in June and July 2020 (i.e. the first two months of the subsidy period under the first tranche) are as follows:

 No content Number of paid employees Total payroll expenses Subsidies to be clawed back by the Government Penalty to be paid due to staff redundancy
June 2020 16 (Assuming that 4 employees with monthly salary of $20,000 were made redundant) $220,000 $0 $140,000 x 20% x 20% = $5,600
July 2020 20 $120,000 $140,000 - $120,000 = $20,000 $0

Penalty to be paid due to staff redundancy: The number of paid employees was 16 in June 2020, which was 4 less than the “committed headcount of paid employees” (20) in March 2020, representing a decrease of 20% (4 ÷ 20 x 100%).

Penalty to be paid by the employer for June = $140,000 (subsidies) x 20% (headcount reduction percentage) x 20% (penalty percentage to be applied to the employer) = $5,600.


Subsidies to be clawed back by the Government: As the total payroll expenses ($120,000) in July 2020 were less than the monthly wage subsidies ($140,000), the Government will claw back the unspent balance of the subsidy ($20,000)for that month.


The total amount of penalty and claw back for the employer in June and July 2020 (i.e. the first two months of the first tranche of subsidy) = $5,600 + $20,000 = $25,600

Therefore, the actual amount of subsidy to be received by Company A under the second tranche will be:
($420,000 - $25,600) = $394,400 (i.e. the difference between (a) and (b) above)

When employers submit applications for the second tranche of wage subsidies, they have to choose a “specified month” within the period from December 2019 to March 2020 for the purpose of calculating the wage subsidies. The amount of subsidies to be received in the second tranche will be determined by the number of employees and their actual wages in the “specified month”. Employers who have received the first tranche of wage subsidies may choose another month as the “specified month” when applying for the second tranche of wage subsidies.

Besides, employers participating in MPF schemes are required to authorise the ESS processing agent to act as their agent to receive the certificates on the relevant MPF records (including the number of employees and their wages) issued by MPF trustees, as well as to authorise the MPF trustees to provide the ESS processing agent (as employers' agent) with MPF record certificates to verify the information related to their MPF contributions. With the applicants’ authorisation, the MPF trustees will forward the applicants’ MPF record certificates in electronic format to the ESS processing agent directly for calculating the amount of wage subsidies. For employers with employees whose wages are fully funded by the Government and have received notification letters from the relevant government departments, the employers concerned should fill in the Relevant Income or wages, and the MPF contributions for eligible employees (i.e. employees whose wages are not fully funded by the Government) during the “specified month” in the "designated form" for the calculation of subsidy amount.

A snapshot of individual employer’s MPF contribution data for December 2019 to March 2020 was taken on 7 May 2020, which will be used for calculating wage subsidies. No changes to the relevant MPF contribution data will be allowed, including settlement of default mandatory contributions for employees, for the purpose of applying for ESS subsidies.

In other words, employers may only apply for wage subsidies in respect of employees for whom default mandatory contributions (excluding surcharge) have been settled on or before 7 May 2020.

  1. For employers making contributions on a monthly basis

    The amount of subsidy will be calculated on the basis of 50% of the Relevant Income as shown in the employer’s MPF contribution record for the “specified month”, with the maximum subsidy per employee per month at $9,000. The relevant month of the contribution record will be determined according to the end day of the contribution period. For example, if the contribution period start date on the contribution record is 15 December and the end date is 14 January, it will be considered as the contribution record of January.


    Example 1: Monthly contribution (Beginning to end of the month)

    Individual employee’s Relevant Income $10,000
    Contribution period start date 2020/01/01
    Contribution period end date 2020/01/31
    “Specified month” January 2020
    Subsidy amount $10,000 x 50%
    = $5,000

    Example 2: Monthly contribution (Middle of current month to middle of next month)

    Individual employee’s Relevant Income $10,000
    Contribution period start date 2020/01/16
    Contribution period end date 2020/02/15
    “Specified month” February 2020
    Subsidy amount $10,000 x 50%
    = $5,000

  2. For employers making contribution more than once every month (e.g. weekly or bi-weekly contributions)

    In accordance with the Relevant Income as shown in the employer’s MPF contribution record of the “specified month”, to calculate 50% of the Relevant Income of the “specified month” according to the proportion of days, with the maximum subsidy per employee per month at $9,000.


    Example 3: Weekly contribution

    Individual employee’s Relevant Income $2,500 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500
    Contribution period start date 2020/02/26 2020/03/04 2020/03/11 2020/03/18 2020/03/25
    Contribution period end date 2020/03/03 2020/03/10 2020/03/17 2020/03/24 2020/03/31
    “Specified month” March 2020 March 2020 March 2020 March 2020 March 2020
    Number of days fall within the “specified month” 3 days 7 days 7 days 7 days 7 days
    Subsidy amount [($2,500 x 3/7) + $2,500 + $2,500 + $2,500 + $2,500] x 50%
    = $11,071 x 50%
    = $5,536

    Note: The above example shows that the “specified month” chosen by the employer covers days beyond that month (i.e. 26 February to 29 February), as such it is necessary to prorate the Relevant Income based on the number of days falling within that month.

  3. For employers making contributions less than once every month(e.g. bi-monthly/quarterly/annually)

    In accordance with the Relevant Income as shown in the employer’s MPF contribution record of the “specified month”, to calculate 50% of the Relevant Income of the “specified month” according to the proportion of days, with the maximum subsidy per employee per month at $9,000.

    A) If the contribution period end date falls within the “specified month”, the contribution record will be adopted for calculating the subsidy of the “specified month” according to the proportion of days.


    Example 4: Quarterly contributions

    Individual employee’s Relevant Income $30,000
    Contribution period start date 2019/11/16
    Contribution period end date 2020/02/15
    “Specified month” February 2020
    Number of days covered in the contribution period 92
    Subsidy amount $30,000/92 x 29 x 50%
    = $4,728

    Note: The above example covers a contribution period of 92 days (from 16 November 2019 to 15 February 2020), as such the subsidy amount for the “specified month” (February 2020) should be prorated based on the number of days falling within that month.

    B) If the “specified month” is within any one month of the contribution period, the contribution record will be adopted for calculating the subsidy of the “specified month” according to the proportion of days.


    Example 5: Yearly contributions

    Individual employee’s Relevant Income $120,000
    Contribution period start date 2019/03/16
    Contribution period end date 2020/03/15
    “Specified month” February 2020
    Number of days covered in the contribution period 366
    Subsidy amount $120,000/366 x 29 x 50%
    = $4,754

    Note: The above example shows a contribution period of 366 days (from 16 March 2019 to 15 March 2020), as such the subsidy for the “specified month” (February 2020) will be prorated based on the number of days falling within that month.

The principle of the ESS is easy to understand, to apply for and quick in disbursement. We hope that the above illustrative examples have covered the MPF contribution situation of a majority of eligible employers. That said, if the above examples do not cover your situation, please approach us by sending an e-mail to enquiry@employmentsupport.hk.

No. The wage subsidies to be received by employers for September to November 2020 under the second tranche must be used to pay the wages of the employees for September, October and November 2020 correspondingly, meaning that the employer’s expenditure on wages for September, October and November 2020 must not be lower than the amount of subsidies for that particular month.

There is no upper limit on the total amount of subsidies that each employer can receive. However, only a maximum subsidy of $9,000 can be received for each employee per month according to the specified calculation method of subsidies.

Eligible employers participating in the second tranche of ESS must provide an undertaking not to implement “redundancy” during the subsidy period (i.e. the number of paid employees in each month during the subsidy period must not be smaller than the “committed headcount of paid employees” (i.e. the total number of paid and unpaid employees as shown on the MPF record certificates in March 2020)) and to spend all the Government wage subsidies on paying wages to their employees.


B. Calculation of the number of employees in the “specified month”

Wage subsidies are calculated based on the number of employees and their Relevant Income or wages as shown on the MPF record certificates of the “specified month”. As the employer has not made any MPF contributions for that new employee, whose information is not included in the MPF record certificates, that employee is thus not eligible for wage subsidy.

As long as the employers have made MPF contributions for these employees in the “specified month”, they will be counted towards the number of employees in the “specified month” in applying for subsidies, regardless of the work locations of these employees.


C. Staff changes during the “specified month”

The wage subsidies are calculated based on the number of employees and their Relevant Income or wages as shown on the MPF record certificates of the “specified month”. Notwithstanding that the employee has resigned, given that he/she remained on the payroll of the “specified month”, and the employer has made MPF contributions; the record of contributions and the Relevant Income are therefore set out in the certificate, and the employer can apply for subsidies in respect of the employee, but all the subsidies received must be spent on paying wages to employees in full.

In respect of new employees, if an employer has not yet made any MPF contributions for a new employee, and no data of the relevant employee is shown in the MPF record certificate, the employee will not be eligible for wage subsidies.

Employers may apply for wage subsidies in respect of employees aged 65 or above with MPF accounts, even if employers have not made any voluntary contributions for such employees. The method to calculate the wage subsidies is as follows:

  1. If information on the wages of employees aged 65 or above is shown on the employer’s MPF record certificate, the amount of wage subsidies will be calculated based on 50% of the wages actually paid to the relevant employees in the “specified month”, with a wage cap at $18,000 per month per employee. The maximum wage subsidy per employee is $9,000 per month.
  2. If information on the voluntary MPF contribution for employees aged 65 or above (but not their wages) is shown on the employer’s MPF record certificate, the amount of wage subsidies will be calculated by multiplying the amount of employers’ voluntary contributions for the relevant employees in the “specified month” by 10 times, with a cap at $9,000 per month per employee.
  3. If information on the employment of employees aged 65 or above (but not their wages nor MPF contributions made for them by the employers) is shown on the employer’s MPF record certificate, the amount of wage subsidies will be calculated based on the number of such employees aged 65 or above employed in the “specified month”, with a subsidy of $5,000 per month per employee.
  4. If the amount of wage subsidy for any of the employees aged 65 or above calculated based on (a) or (b) above is below $5,000 per month, the employers may receive a wage subsidy of $5,000 for each of such employees per month.

D. Change of employees’ wages in the “specified month”

Employers may choose any one month from December 2019 to March 2020 as the “specified month”. The subsidies will be calculated based on the number of employees (but excluding employees on no-pay leave and also excluding employees whose default mandatory contributions (excluding surcharge) in the “specified month” have not been settled on or before 7 May 2020) and their wages actually paid by the employer in the “specified month”.

After the application has been approved, the number of paid employees (excluding employees on no-pay leave) in any one month of the subsidy period from September to November 2020 cannot be less than the “committed headcount of paid employees” (i.e. the total number of paid and unpaid employees in March 2020). In addition, the employer should spend all the wage subsidies received under the second tranche on paying wages to their employees in September, October and November 2020 correspondingly (i.e. the employer’s expenditure on wages for September, October and November 2020 must not be lower than the amount of subsidies for that particular month). This arrangement can encourage employers to pay salaries to their employees who are on no-pay leave.

Regardless of whether the salary level of an employee is higher (e.g. double payment / contract gratuity) or lower (e.g. underemployment / sick leave, etc.) than usual, the subsidy will be calculated based on the actual Relevant Income or wages of the employee in the “specified month” as set out in MPF record certificate.

No. The amount of wage subsidies is calculated based on the number of employees and the Relevant Income or wages in the “specified month” as set out in the MPF record certificates. It will not be affected by any changes in the employee’s wages made beyond the “specified month”.


E. Scope of wages of employees in the “specified month”

Other than employees aged 65 or above (please refer to Q&A 4.14), “wages” refer to Relevant Income of the “specified month” (including salaries, allowances, commissions and bonuses, etc., but excluding non-pecuniary benefits and severance payments or long service payments under the Employment Ordinance (Chapter 57, Laws of Hong Kong)), or otherwise referred to as actual salaries.

Other than employees aged 65 or above (please refer to Q&A 4.14), the Relevant Income set out in MPF record certificates will serve as the basis for calculating the amount of subsidy. If the Relevant Income in the “specified month” chosen by the employer covers various incomes in addition to basic salaries, such incomes can also be taken into account for calculating the subsidies.

Other than employees aged 65 or above (please refer to Q&A 4.14), the amount of subsidies will be determined based on the Relevant Income set out in MPF record certificates. If the Relevant Income in the “specified month” chosen by the employer covers any backpay, it can also be taken into account for calculating the subsidies.

Regardless of whether the employees work full-time or part-time, and whether or not the salary level is fixed, if these employees are “regular employees” under the MPF Master Trust Schemes and Industry Schemes, for whom their employers have made mandatory contributions, or if they are employees aged 65 or above with MPF accounts under the Master Trust Schemes and Industry Schemes, their employers may apply for subsidies in respect of these employees.

The subsidies will be determined based on the Relevant Income/ wages as shown in the MPF record certificates. If the Relevant Income/ wages in the “specified month” chosen by the employer covers various incomes in addition to basic salaries, such incomes can also be taken into account for calculating the subsidies.

The amount of subsidy is calculated based on the actual Relevant Income/ wages of employees in the “specified month” as set out in the MPF record certificates, irrespective of the pay mechanism of employees (such as payment on hourly/daily/weekly/monthly/quarterly basis, or on piece rate or on completion of an entire project).



5. Application Procedures

Employers must submit their ESS applications under the registered company name of the MPF/ORSO scheme accounts opened for their employees, and provide relevant information (e.g. name of the company/corporation/organisation, Business Registration Number, registration number under the Societies Ordinance or the Education Ordinance, non-governmental organisation code assigned by the Social Welfare Department, MPF account/ORSO registration/exemption number, etc.) in the online application form.

Each employer (company/corporation/organisation/natural person) should submit an independent application by including all of the MPF accounts and/or ORSO schemes in the same application. If the subsidiary companies/branches of an entity have set up different MPF accounts and/or ORSO schemes for their employees, each subsidiary company/branch should submit an individual application. On the other hand, if a holding company has enrolled the employees in its subsidiary companies/branches into the same MPF account or set up the same ORSO scheme, the holding company should submit one application only.

Since each employer is regarded as an independent applicant under ESS, the requirements to provide undertakings, calculation of the amount of subsidy, the monitoring and penalty arrangements will apply to individual employers.

All MPF/ORSO schemes under the same employer must choose the same “specified month” for the calculation of subsidies.

The applicant should send an email to enquiry@employmentsupport.hk from the registered email address submitted in the application form in the first tranche of ESS to explain the employer’s situation as early as possible within the application period setting out the name, the employer’s MPF Registration/Participation Number or ORSO Registration/Exemption Number before and after re-structuring or spin-off of the organisation in the email with the relevant supporting documents.

Employers participating in MPF schemes should provide the following information in the online application form –

  • Name and address of the applicant (company/corporation/organisation/natural person)
  • Business Registration Number or other registration numbers (e.g. company registration number, registration number under the Societies Ordinance or the Education Ordinance, non-governmental organisation code assigned by the Social Welfare Department, etc.) (the name of applicant must be the same as the name of business/corporation stated in relevant registration certificates, except natural persons)
  • Name of all MPF trustees, MPF Schemes and Scheme Registration/Participation Numbers of the applicant participated on or after 1 December 2019 (the name of applicant must be the same as the name shown on the records of the MPF trustee)
  • “Specified month” for the calculation of wage subsidies
  • Information of the Hong Kong bank account for receiving wage subsidies (including name of bank, name of the bank account holder and bank account number) (the applicant’s name must be the same as that of the bank account holder)
  • Name, e-mail address and mobile phone number of the representative authorised by the applicant for submitting the application

Moreover, the following supporting documents should also be uploaded or submitted via other specified means when completing the application –

  • Scanned copies of the applicant’s the bank account number for receiving wage subsidies and bank statement(s)
  • Scanned copies of any documents issued by the MPF trustees (e.g. MPF member benefit statement) which show all the MPF schemes participated by the applicant from 1 December 2019 to 31 March 2020. The documents must clearly indicate the name(s) of the MPF trustee(s), names of the MPF scheme(s), and scheme registration/participation number(s) of the employer. If the applicant has changed its MPF trustee, and/or MPF scheme, registration/participation number on or after 1 April 2020, the applicant should complete the relevant details in the appropriate section of the online application form, and upload the relevant MPF supporting documents.
  • Scanned copies of the Business Registration Certificate(s) or the document(s) of the registration of other organisation(s)
  • (Only applicable to employers with some but not all employees fully funded by the Government and have received notification letters from the relevant government departments) Employers cannot apply for wage subsidies in respect of employees whose salaries are fully funded by the Government. Employers must use the “designated form” to fill in the information of each eligible employees (i.e. employees whose wages are not fully funded by the Government), including the number of eligible employees in March 2020 as well as the actual wages of and MPF contributions made to each eligible employee in the “specified month”. After submitting their applications, employers will receive the “designated form” by email within 5 working days from the ESS processing agent and they must upload the completed “designated form” to the Employment Support Scheme Application Service Portal within 5 working days .

To streamline administrative procedures and to avoid possible delays and omissions when submitting information, employers participating in MPF schemes are required to authorise the following parties when submitting their online applications:

  • MPF trustees to provide the ESS processing agent (appointed by the Government to serve as employers’ agent) with the certificates on the relevant MPF records (including the number of employees and their wages) to verify the information related to their MPF contributions; and
  • the ESS processing agent (appointed by the Government to serve as employers’ agent) to receive the certificates on the relevant MPF records issued by MPF trustees and to use the relevant information in the MPF record certificates to calculate subsidies and vet, assess and review applications, as well as to monitor and handle disputes and follow-up matters related to ESS subsidies, and for statistical purposes.

With the applicants’ authorisation, the MPF trustees will forward the MPF record certificates of the applicants in electronic format to the ESS processing agent directly. Applicants may also request their MPF trustees to provide copy of such certificates for reference.

Please note that any omission of information may cause delay in vetting the applications.

Yes. For details, please refer to Q&A 5.6.

The application number and password that applicants received when applying for subsidies in the first tranche of ESS are also applicable to the second tranche application. Applicants can type in the application number, password and telephone number of the contact person for the first tranche to logon to the application webpage to submit applications for the second tranche. The application webpage will automatically display information submitted for the first tranche of application. Applicants should check if all the information therein is correct.

Regarding “specified month”, applicants who have already received wage subsidies in the first tranche can choose a different “specified month” when applying for wage subsidies in the second tranche. If applicants choose the same “specified month” as that of the first tranche in their application for the second tranche of subsidies, they do not need to input the MPF scheme related information or upload the documents again. If necessary, applicants are allowed to change some of the relevant information (e.g. adding MPF Scheme Registration/ Participation Number, e-mail address or mobile phone number) in the online application form. For details, please refer to the application website and online application form.

If applicants choose a “specified month” different from that in the first tranche when applying for the second tranche of subsidies, they should follow the instructions in the online application form to upload documents or update the information (e.g. providing additional MPF account information) where necessary.

Please note that, generally speaking, no amendment to the information, including the “specified month” chosen, on the application form will be accepted after the confirmed completion and submission of the online application.

Applicants applying for the second tranche of wage subsidies are not allowed to change their bank account information in the online application form for receiving subsidies. If applicants need to amend the bank account information due to special circumstances, they should logon to the Employment Support Scheme Application Service Portal according to the instructions in the online application form, after successfully submitting the application form of the second tranche of ESS, and upload the relevant bank statement or other related supporting documents for verification and follow up.

(Only applicable to employers with some but not all employees fully funded by the Government and have received notification letters from the relevant government departments) If employers decide to choose the same “specified month” as in the first tranche, they do not need to input information on eligible employees (i.e. employees whose wages are not fully funded by the Government) in the “specified month” again. If applicants choose a different “specified month” for the second tranche, they are required to input and upload information of eligible employees in the “designated form”, including the actual wages of and MPF contributions made to each eligible employee in the new “specified month”. In addition, employers (whether there is a change of the “specified month” or not) are required to input the actual wages of eligible employees in June and July 2020 in the “designated form” when applying for the second tranche of subsidies. Information on the actual wages of eligible employees in August 2020 should also be submitted on the Employment Support Scheme Application Service Portal on or before 30 September 2020 to the Secretariat and/or ESS processing agent to verify if the applicants are in breach of their undertakings.

Applications will be processed only upon completion of the online application procedures.

Please upload the required supporting documents by scanning or taking the front vertical shot of such documents. To speed up the vetting processing, the scanned copies or photos must clearly display the text content.

Please note that supporting documents should be submitted in scanned format if more than one document is to be uploaded.

For the calculation of the wage subsidy amount and confirmation of the “committed headcount of paid employees” (meaning the total number of paid and unpaid employees in March 2020), an employer is required to authorise its MPF trustees, when making online application, to provide the number of employees and the actual wages in the “specified month”, as well as the total number of employees in March 2020 to the ESS processing agent for assessment purpose. Such information does not include the personal data of the employees (e.g. their names and Hong Kong Identity Card numbers).

As for employers with some but not all employees fully funded by the Government and have received notification letters from the relevant government departments, they must use the “designated form” to fill in the information of each eligible employee (i.e. employees whose wages are not fully funded by the Government), including the actual wages of and MPF contributions made to each eligible employee in the “specified month”. After submitting their applications, employers will receive the “designated form” by email from the ESS processing agent within 5 working days and they must upload the completed “designated form” to the Employment Support Scheme Application Service Portal within 5 working days.

No.

For employers who have opened MPF accounts for employees, the amount of wage subsidies will be calculated based on the information listed in the MPF record certificates. The MPF trustees will provide the certificates to the ESS processing agent after obtaining authorisation from the employers.

Only online application is accepted under ESS. We will set up a help desk during the application period (i.e. 31 August to 13 September) of the second tranche of ESS to assist applicants in need for completing the online applications.


The address of the help desk is as follows –

  • Room 1301, AT Tower, 180 Electric Road, North Point

Service Hours:

  • Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays), 9 am to 6 pm

The online application period for the second tranche of ESS is from 7:00 am on 31 August to 11:59 pm on 13 September. The system for online application will cease to operate after 13 September.

You have to fill out the online application form again if the browser or application webpage is closed before submission.

An applicant has 60 minutes to complete and submit the application.

Upon confirmation of completion of the online application, the applicant will receive a confirmation email and SMS to acknowledge the receipt of the application and a computer-generated application number and password will be issued (for employers who have applied for wage subsidies in the first tranche, the application number and password will be the same in the second tranche). If the applicant’s Internet is disconnected when completing the application form, the application procedures may not be complete and applicants are required to complete a new online application form. Please note that it is only when the applicant receives a confirmation email and SMS that the online application procedures are considered complete and will be processed.

It is expected that most eligible employers who have provided accurate and complete information will receive wage subsidies in three to four weeks after submission of application. Applicants are therefore advised to ensure that the information they submit meet all requirements under ESS to facilitate early completion of the vetting process and disbursement of the subsidy. For employers whose applications involve ORSO schemes, or government funded organisations, government outsourced service contractors or consultants which have received notification in writing by relevant government departments, their applications may require longer processing time. Please note that any omission of information may delay the vetting process of the application.

In addition, if employers who received the first tranche of wage subsidies have violated the undertaking (i.e. failing to use all the wage subsidies received for a particular month to pay the wages of their employees in the same month and/or the number of employees on the payroll in any one month of the subsidy period is less than the “committed headcount of paid employees” (meaning the total number of paid or unpaid staff in March 2020)), and have to return to the Government the unspent balance of wage subsidies and/or pay a penalty to the Government, their applications may require a longer processing time.

The ESS Secretariat will notify applicants via e-mail and SMS message that they may check the application result on the online system before the disbursement of wage subsidies to employers/ one-off lump-sum subsidy to SEPs.

Applicants may also logon to the ESS website to check the application status and results (including the approved amount of subsidies).

Generally speaking, upon completion and confirmation of the online application, applicants are not allowed to amend the information (including the chosen “specified month”) submitted in the application form.

Should there be any special circumstances, applicants should inform the ESS processing agent, through the Employment Support Scheme Application Service Portal, using the application number and password for follow-up.

If an applicant has lost his/her application number, he/she is required to send an e-mail via their registered email account to enquiry@employmentsupport.hk. Employers are required to provide in the e-mail their company names, and MPF scheme registration/participation numbers and/or ORSO scheme registration/exemption numbers. The ESS Secretariat/processing agent will issue the application numbers by e-mail upon verification of applicants’ identities.

All applicants, irrespective of whether they have been granted wage subsidies in the first tranche of ESS or new applicants in the second tranche of ESS, must declare all MPF trustee(s), and/or MPF scheme(s), registration/participation number(s) changed on or after 1 April 2020. They must provide the relevant information and upload the relevant supporting documents in respect of the MPF scheme(s) concerned when completing the online application form.



6. Application Results and Disbursement Arrangements

Since 22 June, the Employment Support Scheme (ESS) Secretariat has made available, by batches, on the ESS website(www.ess.gov.hk) the list of the employers who have received the wage subsidies in the first tranche, the amount of wage subsidies disbursed and the “committed headcount of paid employees”.

For the second tranche of ESS, the Secretariat will upload, by batches, onto the above website the same information upon the completion of disbursement of subsidies to the employers whose applications have been approved.

Upon successful submission of the application, the applicant will receive an email and an SMS message acknowledging receipt of his/her application by the system and be assigned an application number and a password (for employers who have received wage subsidies in the first tranche, the application number and password will be the same in the second tranche). Applicants may check their application status and results online on the ESS website anytime.

After completion of vetting of the applications and before disbursement of wage subsidies to employers or one-off lump-sum subsidy to self-employed persons, the Secretariat will notify the applicants via e-mails and SMS messages that they may check their application results on the webpage.

The applicant should inform the ESS processing agent, through the Employment Support Scheme Application Service Portal, using the application number and password for follow-up, or send e-mail to enquiry@employmentsupport.hk, or call 1836-122 or visit our help desk during service hours.

If applicants would like to request for a review of the aforementioned wage subsidy amount for the second tranche of the ESS (including the deductions in respect of subsidy to be clawed back and / or penalty for the first tranche (if applicable)) and committed headcount of paid employees, please select “REQUEST FOR REVIEW” in the result notification webpage within 7 days from the date of issuance of the application result notification. Please note that that once a request for review is lodged, subsidy disbursement will be withheld until the review is completed. No overdue requests for review of application result will be accepted.



7. Penalty and Monitoring

For an employer receiving the second tranche of subsidies, if it fails to use all the subsidies received for a particular month to pay the wages of its employees in the same month during the three-month subsidy period (i.e. from September to November 2020), the Government will claw back the unspent balance of the subsidies of that month.

Subsidies to be clawed back by the Government ($) = Subsidies received for a particular month ($) Actual payroll expenses for a particular month ($)

Furthermore, if the total number of paid employees (excluding those on no-pay leave) in any one month of the subsidy period of the second tranche is less than the number of employees (whether paid or unpaid) in March 2020 (i.e. “committed headcount of paid employees”), the employer will have to pay a penalty to the Government. The penalty for a particular month during the subsidy period is calculated as follows:

Subsidies received for a particular month ($)
x
Headcount reduction percentage for a particular month (%)
x
Penalty percentage (%)
Headcount reduction
percentage
for a particular month (%)
=
Committed headcount
of paid employees
Total no. of paid employees
in a particular month

over Committed headcount of paid employees
x
100%

The penalty percentage is determined by the employer’s “committed headcount of paid employees”, viz, the larger the number of employees, the higher the penalty percentage. Details are set out below:

Committed headcount of paid employees Penalty Percentage
Less than 10 10%
10 - 49 20%
50 - 99 40%
100 - 499 60%
500 or more 80%

Examples of penalty:


Example 1: For employers with “committed headcount of paid employees” of less than 10

“Committed headcount of paid employees”: 5
Applicable penalty percentage (less than 10 employees): 10%
The amount of the second tranche of subsidy received by the employer is $120,000 (i.e. the monthly subsidy from September to November 2020 is $40,000).


The total number of paid employees and total wages paid in each month of the subsidy period are as follows:

 No content Total number of paid employees Total wages paid Subsidies to be clawed back by the Government Penalty of making redundancies
September 2020 3 $60,000 $0 $40,000 X 40% X 10% = $1,600
October 2020 5 $30,000 $40,000 - $30,000 = $10,000 $0
November 2020 7 $70,000 $0 $0

Penalty of making redundancies:Since the total number of paid employees in September 2020 is 3, representing a reduction of 2 employees as compared to the “committed headcount of paid employees” (5 employees) or by 40% (2 ÷ 5 x 100%), the amount of penalty payable by the employer for September = $40,000 (subsidies received) x 40% (headcount reduction percentage) x 10% (penalty percentage applicable to the employer) = $1,600.

Subsidies to be clawed back by the Government: Since the total wages paid in October 2020 ($30,000) is less than the monthly wage subsidy in any one month ($40,000), the Government will claw back the unspent balance of the subsidy ($10,000).

Penalty for the second tranche of subsidies and the subsidies clawed back = $1,600 + $10,000 = $11,600


Example 2: For employers with “committed headcount of paid employees” of 500 or more

“Committed headcount of paid employees”: 1 000
Applicable penalty percentage (500 or more employees): 80%
The amount of the second tranche of subsidy received by the employer is $15,000,000 (i.e. the monthly wage subsidy from September to November 2020 is $5,000,000).


The total number of paid employees and total wages paid in each month of the subsidy period are as follows:

 No content Total number of paid employees Total wages paid Subsidies to be clawed back by the Government Penalty of making redundancies
September 2020 900 $6,000,000 $0 $5,000,000 X 10% X 80% = $400,000
October 2020 1000 $4,800,000 $5,000,000 - $4,800,000 = $200,000 $0
November 2020 1200 $10,800,000 $0 $0

Penalty of making redundancies: Since the number of paid employees in September 2020 is 900, representing a reduction of 100 employees as compared to the “committed headcount of paid employees” (1 000 employees) or by 10% (100 ÷ 1 000 x 100%), the amount of penalty payable by the employer for September = $5,000,000 (subsidies received) x 10% (headcount reduction percentage) x 80% (penalty percentage applicable to the employer) = $400,000.


Subsidies to be clawed back by the Government: Since the total wages paid in October 2020 ($4,800,000) is less than the monthly wage subsidy in any one month ($5,000,000), the Government will claw back the unspent balance of the subsidy ($200,000).


Penalty for the second tranche of subsidies and the subsidies clawed back = $400,000 + $200,000 = $600,000


In addition to the above penalty, for employers who have received the first tranche of subsidies and participate in the second tranche, the Government reserves the right to reject an employer’s application for the second tranche of wage subsidies if the Secretariat, in its absolute discretion, considers that the magnitude of “redundancies made” by the employer in its company/organisation during the subsidy period of the first tranche (i.e. from June to August 2020) was substantial, and the employer fails to prove to the satisfaction of the Secretariat its intention to employ persons to replace those being laid off and/or re-employ those who have been laid off, or there is no reasonable explanations provided for the "redundancies made" by it. Besides, for employers who have received the second tranche of wage subsidies, the Government reserves the right to claw back the second tranche of wage subsidies disbursed to an employer (in full or in part) if the Secretariat, in its absolute discretion, considers that the magnitude of “redundancies made” by the employer in its company/organisation during the subsidy period of the second tranche (i.e. from September to November 2020) was substantial, and the employer concerned fails to prove to the satisfaction of the Secretariat its intention to employ persons to replace those being laid off and/or re-employ those who have been laid off, or there is no reasonable explanations provided for the "redundancies made" by it.

Besides, for employers who have been granted wage subsidies in the first tranche and participate in the second tranche, in addition to the penalty as specified above, the Government reserves the right to reject an employer’s application for the second tranche of wage subsidies (or, if the subsidies have been disbursed, require the employer to return the subsidies received (in full or in part) within a specified period) if the Secretariat, in its absolute discretion, considers that the employer has, during the subsidy period of the first tranche (i.e. from June to August 2020), engaged in conduct which directly or indirectly violates the objective of retaining employment under ESS, or is contrary to public interest. Furthermore, the Government reserves the right to require an employer to return the second tranche of wage subsidies received (in full or in part) within a specified period if the Secretariat, in its absolute discretion, considers that the employer has, during the subsidy period of the second tranche (i.e. from September to November 2020), engaged in conduct which directly or indirectly violates the objective of retaining employment under ESS, or is contrary to public interest.

The “committed headcount of paid employees” includes the total number of employees (regardless of whether they were paid or not) in March 2020, including employees who have tendered resignation or made redundant in that month but remained in the employers’ Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) contribution records for March / salary payment records for March in respect of employers with ORSO schemes.

Yes. Employers receiving wage subsidies under ESS are required to undertake that the total number of paid employees in any one month during the subsidy period (regarding the second tranche of subsidies, that means from September to November 2020) will not be less than the “committed headcount of paid employees” (i.e. the total number of employees as of March 2020 (regardless of whether they were paid or not)) , or they will have to pay a penalty to the Government.

We believe that employers have taken into account various situations that may affect their business during the subsidy period when submitting applications and giving undertakings. Therefore, if employers expect reduction in the number of employees during the subsidy period, they must fill the vacancies to maintain the “committed headcount of paid employees”.

ESS does not forbid employers to redeploy their employees when receiving wage subsidies. However, it should be noted that both the undertaking and penalty under ESS are related to the individual applicant. Applicants who have received wage subsidies must ensure that the number of paid employees in each month during the subsidy period should not be less than the “committed headcount of paid employees”. It should be noted that the ESS processing agent will use the actual wages and total number of paid employees in the MPF record certificates and/or ORSO contributions record in the subsidy period to determine if an employer has violated the undertaking.

After the application has been approved, employers should make sure that the number of paid employees (excluding those on no-pay leave) in any one month during the subsidy period should not be less than the “committed headcount of paid employees”, and the employer should spend all the wage subsidies in paying wages to their employees. Employers may hire additional employees to support their business operations if employees are asking for taking no-pay leave.

For employers participating in MPF schemes, if they have made MPF contributions for the new employees in the relevant months during the subsidy period and with such information shown in the MPF record certificates, the employees concerned will be counted towards the total number of employees in the relevant months.

When employers participating in MPF schemes submit their applications, they are required to authorise the ESS processing agent to serve as their agent to receive certificates on the relevant MPF records (including the number of employees and wages) issued by the MPF trustees, as well as to authorise the MPF trustees to provide the ESS processing agent (as the employers’ agent) with MPF record certificates to verify the information related to their MPF contributions. With the applicants’ authorisation, the MPF trustees will forward the MPF record certificates in electronic format to the ESS processing agent directly.

When processing applications, the ESS processing agent will verify the information submitted by the employers and conduct sample on-site checking of the original copies of wage records, so as to monitor the applications, the usage of the wage subsidies and whether there are any redundancies.

The data collected under ESS is primarily the number of employees and their wages. To prevent applicants from using false or incomplete information to apply for ESS, employers should retain the original copies of the relevant documents for two years for the purpose of auditing.

Relevant departments of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government have issued letters to remind relevant organisations of the eligibility of ESS. Applicants have to provide undertakings to ensure that the application will not cover non-eligible employees (e.g. employees whose wages are fully funded by the Government). Applicants would bear legal liability for furnishing any false information. If there is reasonable suspicion of the information provided in the application, the ESS Secretariat would consult the relevant government departments. Furthermore, the Government will conduct spot checks and request applicants to provide additional information for follow-up and on-site audit. If there is reasonable suspicion of false information we would also consider making referrals to law enforcement agencies for investigation.

The ESS Secretariat and the appointed processing agent will perform auditing through employers’ MPF record certificates for each month during the subsidy period provided by MPF trustees. The actual wages and the total number of paid employees shown will be used to verify whether the employers have used all of the wage subsidies on paying wages to their employees during the subsidy period and whether the total number of paid employees of the month is not less than the “committed headcount of paid employees”.

In addition, after the vetting of applications and the disbursement of subsidies, the ESS Secretariat and/or its processing agent will conduct sample verification of the information submitted by the employers, and conduct on-site checking at those employers’ organisations.

If employers fail to use all the subsidies to pay the wages in any one month during the subsidy period, receive more subsidies than they are entitled to or receive subsidies erroneously, the Government will claw back the relevant amount of subsidies. As required by the Secretariat and/or the processing agent, applicants have to return the subsidies to the Government as soon as possible. If the employers’ applications for both the first and second tranches of subsidies are approved, and they are in breach of their undertakings during the first subsidy period so that they have to return the unspent balance of the subsidy and/or pay a penalty to the Government, the Government will deduct the relevant amount directly from the second tranche of subsidies to the employers concerned.

If it comes to the attention of the ESS Secretariat and/or the processing agent that an applicant is undergoing liquidation before disbursement of subsidies, the Secretariat and/or the processing agent reserve all the rights to refuse disbursement of the subsidies.

We understand that many employers are striving to keep their business afloat so as to tide over the difficult times with their employees. The aim of the second tranche of ESS is to help employers pay the wages of their employees from September to November 2020. Employers receiving the subsidies have undertaken that the total number of employees on the payroll in any one month of the subsidy period will not be less than the “committed headcount of paid employees”. They also have to use all the wage subsidies to pay the wages of the employees and/or make MPF contributions for them. We believe that employers have taken into account situations that may affect their businesses during the subsidy period when submitting their applications and providing undertakings. Therefore, in the unfortunate event of closure of a company, the Government will claw back the unspent balance of the subsidies after its closure or during the subsidy period, and impose a penalty.

The ESS adopts a transparent approach to enable monitoring by employees concerned and the society. The ESS Secretariat has uploaded onto the ESS website the list of employers who have received subsidies in the first tranche of ESS, the amount of wage subsidies received and their “committed headcount of paid employees”. As such, employees concerned and members of the public will be informed of the employer’s receipt of subsidy. The Secretariat will publish, by batches, on the website the list of employers who have received subsidies in the second tranche of ESS, the amount of wage subsidies received and their “committed headcount of paid employees” after the disbursement of the subsidies. Should an employer be found to have abused or violated the conditions of ESS, the employees concerned or members of the public may report to the ESS Secretariat. The authorities will take follow-up actions proactively.

Telephone hotline: 1836-122
Email: enquiry@employmentsupport.hk


For enquiries relating to provisions under the Employment Ordinance or conditions of employment pertaining to labour disputes, please contact the Labour Relations Division (LRD) of the Labour Department:

Email:enquiry@labour.gov.hk

Branch offices of LRD: https://www.labour.gov.hk/eng/tele/lr1.htm

Enquiry hotline: 2717-1771 (the hotline is operated by 1823)

Applicants must provide true, complete and accurate information when making the applications, otherwise, the relevant applications may be rendered invalid, rejected and/or disqualified. Appropriate monitoring and auditing mechanisms are in place under the ESS. During and after the vetting of applications, the ESS Secretariat and/or its processing agent will verify the information submitted by the employers, and conduct on-site checking at those employers’ organisations. Any employer who is found to have made a false statement, misinterpreted or concealed the facts, or furnished false or misleading documents or information to the Government, Secretariat and/or processing agent in an attempt to deceive the Government and/or its appointed agencies is a criminal offence, and could be subject to criminal prosecution.



8. Enquiry

Applicants may seek assistance via the following channels:

E-mail to enquiry@employmentsupport.hk; or
Call 1836-122 during service hours


Service hours of hotline:

  • Before or after application period:
    Monday to Friday, 9 am to 6 pm
  • During application period (31 August to 13 September 2020):
    31 August to 9 September Monday to Sunday (including public holidays), 9 am to 6 pm
    10 September to 12 September 9 am to 8 pm
    13 September 9 am to 0:30 am of the following/next day

Applicants may make an appointment with the help desk for assistance during the application period through the hotline above.


The addresses of the help desk is as follows:

  • Room 1301, AT Tower, 180 Electric Road, North Point

Service hours of the help desk:

  • Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays), 9 am to 6 pm


The FAQs provided on this website are for reference only. The ESS Secretariat and/ or the Processing Agent may amend any FAQ to cater for different circumstances and does not accept any responsibilities to the applicants and any third-parties in connection with any amendments to the FAQs on this website.


1. General Information

ESS provides time-limited financial support to employers to retain their employees who may otherwise be made redundant. Employers who participate in ESS must provide an undertaking not to implement redundancy during the subsidy period and to spend all the wage subsidies on paying wages to their employees. ESS will also provide a one-off lump-sum subsidy to persons who have a “Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) self-employed person (SEP) account”.

ESS provides a six-month wage subsidy for eligible employers. The subsidies will be disbursed to employers in two tranches, with the first tranche covering the period from June to August 2020 (application of which had been closed) and the second tranche from September to November 2020.

ESS also provides a one-off lump-sum subsidy of $7,500 to eligible SEPs. Please note that SEPs who have received a one-off subsidy of $7,500 in the first tranche of ESS cannot apply again in the second tranche.

When making online applications for ESS, employers should undertake and warrant that they will –

  1. not implement redundancies during the subsidy period; and
  2. spend all the wage subsidies on paying wages to their employees.

For an employer who has received the second tranche of subsidies, if he/she fails to use all the wage subsidies received for a particular month during the three-month subsidy period (i.e. from September to November 2020) to pay the wages of his/her employees in the same month, the Government will claw back the unspent balance of the subsidy.

Furthermore, if the number of employees on the payroll in any one month of the subsidy period is less than the “committed headcount of paid employees” (i.e. the total number of paid and unpaid employees in March 2020), the employer will have to pay a penalty to the Government (please refer to Section 7 – “Penalty and Monitoring”).

The Government has exempted the wage subsidies received by employers and the one-off lump-sum subsidy received by SEPs under ESS from taxation. That said, wages earned by employees (regardless of whether the wages are subsidised by ESS or fully paid by employers) are treated as income chargeable to salaries tax under the Inland Revenue Ordinance (Cap. 112).

Employers must spend all the Government’s wage subsidies on paying wages to their employees and cannot use them for other purposes, including non-cash benefits for employees or donations.

Employers must spend all the Government’s wage subsidies from ESS on paying wages to their employees and cannot use them for other purposes, including the retention/deduction of certain portion of the ESS subsidy for making MPF or ORSO schemes contributions.

Employers must spend all the Government’s wage subsidies for a particular month to pay the wages of his/her employees in the same month. While employers can use the subsidies for wage increase or hire of additional manpower, they should not reserve the wages subsidies for future use.

Employers who meet the eligibility criteria may apply for the second tranche of subsidy. The chance of success in applying for the second tranche of subsidy depends on whether employers meet the eligibility criteria.

Yes. Employers who meet the eligibility criteria may apply for the second tranche of subsidy.

Generally speaking, if an employer who has received the wage subsidy under the first tranche of ESS violates the undertaking, the Government will claw back the unspent balance of the subsidy and/ or require the employer to pay a penalty according to the penalty arrangements under the first tranche, but will not reject the employer’s application for the second tranche of subsidy.

Nevertheless, the Government reserves the right to reject an employer's application for the second tranche of wage subsidies if the Secretariat considers that the magnitude of “redundancies made” by the employer in its company/organisation during the subsidy period of the first tranche (i.e. from June to August 2020) was substantial, and the employer fails to prove to the satisfaction of the Secretariat its intention to employ persons to replace those being laid off and/or re-employ those who have been laid off, or there is no reasonable explanations provided for the "redundancies made" by it.

Eligible employers under ESS must have set up MPF accounts or ORSO schemes for their employees. Each employer (company/ corporation/ organisation/ natural person) should submit an independent application by including all of the MPF accounts and/or ORSO schemes in the same application.

If the subsidiary companies/branches of an entity have set up different MPF accounts and/or ORSO schemes for the employees, each subsidiary company/branch should submit an individual application. On the other hand, if a holding company has enrolled the employees in its subsidiary companies/branches into the same MPF account or set up the same ORSO scheme, then the holding company should submit one application only.

Since each employer is regarded as an independent applicant under ESS, the requirement to provide undertakings, calculation of the amount of subsidy and the monitoring and penalty arrangements will apply to individual employers.

The ESS Secretariat has appointed a professional accounting firm to serve as the ESS processing agent, which assists the Government in the implementation of ESS (including design of the online application portal, calculation of the amount of subsidies, and handling public enquiries, etc.), vetting of applications, complaint handling and auditing of applications to prevent abuses.



2. Eligibility

Generally speaking, with the exception of ineligible employers (please refer to Q&A 2.2), employers who have participated in Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) schemes (including the Master Trust Schemes and Industry Schemes) or who have set up MPF-exempted Occupational Retirement Schemes Ordinance (ORSO) schemes (including the ORSO registered schemes or ORSO exempted schemes) (ORSO schemes), regardless of industries, are eligible.

For employers who have set up ORSO schemes, the employees covered in the application must have become members of the relevant ORSO schemes on or before 31 March 2020 (i.e. cannot be backdated to that date or any earlier dates). In other words, employers who have set up ORSO schemes since 1 April 2020 are not eligible. It should be noted that employers with ORSO schemes may only apply for wage subsidies in respect of their employees who are Hong Kong Identity Card holders.

The following employers are not eligible for applying ESS –

  • the Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), the Legislative Council of the HKSAR and the Judiciary of the HKSAR;
  • the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the HKSAR, the Office for Safeguarding National Security of the Central People’s Government in the HKSAR, the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China in the HKSAR, and the Hong Kong Garrison of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army;
  • offices of other governments and international organisations;
  • specified statutory bodies and corporations; and
  • specified public organisations, government-owned companies or subvented organisations.

The list of employers belonging to the above categories is at Annex.


It should be noted that employers cannot apply for wage subsidies under ESS in respect of “casual employees”1 under the Master Trust Schemes and Industry Schemes, or employees who have applied for the Catering Business (Social Distancing) Subsidy Scheme for licensed premises (including applications being processed or approved). Green minibus and local ferry operators who have applied for ESS wage subsidies in respect of their employees aged 65 or above are not allowed to apply, in respect of the same employees, for the subsidy scheme of the Transport Department specifically designed for green minibus and local ferry operators hiring employees aged 65 or above.


Moreover, employers will receive notification letters from the relevant government departments informing them that they cannot apply for subsidies under ESS in respect of the following types of employees whose wages are fully funded by the Government:

  1. employees in government-funded organisations whose wages are fully funded by the Government; and
  2. dedicated staff engaged by government outsourced service contractors/consultants to implement or deliver these contracts.

Employers may apply for subsidies in respect of those employees whose wages are not fully funded by the Government. The ESS Secretariat will, through the government departments concerned, remind their subvented organisations and outsourced service contractors/consultants of such eligibility criteria in writing regarding the applications for the second tranche of subsidies.


  • 1 The term “casual employees” refers to employees who are at least 18 but under 65 years of age, and are employed in the construction industry or the catering industry on a day-to-day basis or for a fixed period of less than 60 days. (Reference: http://www.mpfa.org.hk/eng/main/glossary/index.jsp)

Employers cannot apply for wage subsidies under ESS in respect of employees who have applied for the Catering Business (Social Distancing) Subsidy Scheme for licensed premises (including applications being processed or approved). After the relevant employers have submitted ESS applications, the ESS processing agent will contact them to request information on the number of their employees who have applied for the Catering Business (Social Distancing) Subsidy Scheme in respect of the licensed premises in the “specified month” and in March 2020 and also the actual wages of these employees in the “specified month”. The actual wages of these employees will not be counted in the calculation of ESS wage subsidies.

Please note that the ESS processing agent reserves the right to approach the relevant government departments for getting access to and checking the information submitted by the applicants for the Catering Business (Social Distancing) Subsidy Scheme during the vetting process so as to verify the particulars declared by the applicants.

Statutory bodies with their day-to-day operations basically run by Government employees are not eligible for ESS.

For statutory bodies whose day-to-day operations are not mainly run by Government employees, if they have hired some but not all employees fully funded by the Government and have received notification letters from the relevant government departments, they may only apply for the subsidies in respect of those employees whose wages are not fully funded by the Government, provided that they have been making MPF contributions or have set up ORSO schemes for these employees (please refer to Section 4 - “Calculation of Subsidy”). Employers need to make a declaration and provide the actual wages of the employees concerned for the purpose of calculating the subsidies.

Employees of government-funded organisations whose wages are fully funded by the Government are not eligible for the ESS. However, if these organisations have employees whose wages are not fully funded by the Government and that the organisations have been making MPF contributions or have set up ORSO schemes for these employees, they may apply for subsidies in respect of these employees (please refer to Section 4 - “Calculation of Subsidy”). Employers are required to make a declaration and provide the actual wages of the employees concerned for the purpose of calculating the subsidies. Regarding the application for the second tranche of subsidy, the ESS Secretariat will, through the government departments concerned, issue letters to these organisations to remind them of the eligibility of the ESS.

For organisations with individual schemes or projects receiving government funding but have not received the Government’s notification, they can apply for the ESS for employees, for whom they have been making MPF contributions or have set up ORSO schemes.

With the exception of ineligible employers (please refer to Q&A 2.2), all government-funded organisations may apply for the subsidies in respect of those employees whose wages are not fully funded by the Government, provided that they have been making MPF contributions or have set up ORSO schemes for these employees. Employers are required to make a declaration and provide the actual wages of the employees concerned for the purpose of calculating the subsidies. Regarding the applications for the second tranche of subsidy, the ESS Secretariat will, through the government departments concerned, remind such organisations of the above eligibility criteria in writing.

Given that government outsourced service contractors/consultants will continue to receive contract payments from the Government, dedicated staff engaged to implement or deliver government contracts are not eligible for the subsidies. If some of the staff concerned are not working solely for the relevant government contracts but are also working for other private contract(s) at the same time, as their wages are not fully funded by the Government, the government outsourced service contractors/consultants may apply for the subsidies in respect of these staff provided that they have been making MPF contributions or has set up ORSO schemes for the relevant staff (please refer to Section 4 - “Calculation of Subsidy”). Employers are required to make a declaration and provide the actual wages of the employees concerned for the purpose of calculating the subsidies. The ESS Secretariat will, through the government departments concerned, remind such organisations of the above eligibility criteria in writing.

As the employers (subcontractors) have no contractual relationship with the Government, their service fees are paid by the contractors. Provided that the employers have been making MPF contributions or have set up ORSO schemes for their employees, they may apply for the subsidies.

The ESS Secretariat will, through the government departments concerned, remind their subvented organisations and outsourced service contractors/consultants of the eligibility criteria of the ESS in writing, i.e. they can only apply for the subsidy in respect of those employees whose wages are not fully funded by the Government, provided that they have been making MPF contributions or have set up ORSO schemes.

Yes. With the exception of ineligible employers (please refer to Q&A 2.2), all employers who have been making MPF contributions (including the Master Trust Schemes and Industry Schemes) or who have set up ORSO schemes for employees, regardless of industries, are eligible for application.

With the exception of ineligible employers, all employers who have been making MPF contributions (including the Master Trust Schemes and Industry Schemes) or have set up ORSO schemes for employees are eligible. However, employers cannot apply for subsidies under the ESS in respect of the employees who have applied for the Catering Business (Social Distancing) Subsidy Scheme in respect of the licensed premises (including applications being processed or approved) (please refer to Q&A 2.2 and 2.3). Green minibus and local ferry operators who have applied for ESS wage subsidies in respect of their employees aged 65 or above are not allowed to apply, in respect of the same employees, for the subsidy scheme of the Transport Department specifically designed for green minibus and local ferry operators hiring employees aged 65 or above.

With the exception of ineligible employers (please refer to Q&A 2.2 and 2.3), all employers who have been making MPF contributions (including the Master Trust Schemes and Industry Schemes) or have set up ORSO schemes for employees are eligible. It should be noted that employers who have set up ORSO schemes may only apply for wage subsidies in respect of their employees who are Hong Kong Identity Card holders.

Employers who have set up MPF-exempted ORSO schemes (including ORSO registered schemes or ORSO exempted schemes) for their employees may apply for the subsidies in respect of these employees. However, some employers have set up ORSO exempted schemes mainly for non-Hong Kong resident employees. For instance, one of the requirements of ORSO exempted schemes is that no more than either 10% or 50 of the members are Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card holders. The present arrangement is to ensure that the Government wage subsidies are provided for employers whose employees are Hong Kong Identity Card holders.

Yes. An SEP who is also an employer may apply for the SEP subsidy for himself/herself and the wage subsidies for employees of his/her company as long as he/she meets the eligibility requirements of the ESS.



3. Undertaking

Employers who participate in the second tranche of ESS are required to undertake –

  1. not to “implement redundancy” during the subsidy period of the second tranche (i.e. from September to November 2020), i.e. the total number of employees on the payroll (excluding those on no-pay leave) in any one month during the subsidy period should not be less than the total number of paid and unpaid employees in March 2020 (i.e. the “committed headcount of paid employees”); and
  2. to spend all the wage subsidies of ESS for a particular month on paying wages to the employees for the same month during the subsidy period.

Applicants of the second tranche of wage subsidy (including employers who have applied for the first tranche of wage subsidy) are required to undertake not to implement redundancy and to spend all the government wage subsidies on paying wages to their employees during the subsidy period when they fill in the online application form.

To cater for different situations of industries and sectors and to avoid disrupting normal business operation, we have allowed certain flexibility, such as not requiring employers to maintain the original wage level of individual employees, when designing the ESS.

However, it should be noted that employers applying for the second tranche of wage subsidies under the ESS are required to undertake that the number of employees on the payroll (excluding those on no-pay leave) in any one month of the three-month subsidy period (i.e. from September to November 2020) must not be less than the total number of paid and unpaid employees in March 2020 (i.e. the “committed headcount of paid employees”). The employers are also required to spend all the wage subsidies on paying wages to their employees in the same month according to the terms and conditions of the ESS, and are not allowed to use the subsidies for any other purposes.

For an employer who has received the second tranche of wage subsidies, if it fails to spend all the wage subsidies received for a particular month during the three-month subsidy period (i.e. from September to November 2020) to pay the wages of its employees in the same month, the Government will claw back the unspent balance of the subsidy for that month.

Furthermore, if the number of paid employees (excluding those on no-pay leave) in any one month of the subsidy period is less than the “committed headcount of paid employees”, the employer will have to pay a penalty to the Government. (Please refer to Section 7 – “Penalty and Monitoring”).

In addition to the above penalties, the Government reserves the right to claw back the second tranche of wage subsidies disbursed to the employer (in full or in part) if the Secretariat considers that the magnitude of “redundancies made” by the employer in its company/organisation during the subsidy period of the second tranche (i.e. from September to November 2020) was substantial, and the employer fails to prove to the satisfaction of the Secretariat its intention to employ persons to replace those being laid off and/or re-employ those who have been laid off, or there is no reasonable explanations provided for the "redundancies made" by it.

For employers who have set up ORSO schemes, the ESS Secretariat and/or its appointed processing agent will compare the total number of paid employees as shown on the supporting document(s) of employees’ wages in each month during the subsidy period with the total number of eligible employees (whether paid or unpaid) in March 2020 provided in the application form to verify whether the employer has implemented redundancy.


Employers should note that –

  1. If the payroll records of employers who have set up ORSO Scheme(s) for March 2020 shows that an employee had ceased/would cease employment in the month/subsequent months (regardless of whether he was paid or not), the employee will still be counted towards the “committed headcount of paid employees” as a basis for comparing the total number of paid employees during the subsidy period.
  2. In respect of new employees, if an applicant has set up ORSO Scheme(s) for a new employee in March 2020 and such information is shown in the payroll records of employers who have set up ORSO Scheme(s) for the month, the employee concerned will be counted towards the “committed headcount of paid employees” as a basis for comparing the total number of paid employees during the subsidy period (i.e. from September to November 2020). For employers who have set up ORSO Scheme(s), if an applicant has set up ORSO Scheme(s) for and paid any new employees in any one month of the subsidy period and such information is shown on the payroll records of that month, the relevant employees will be counted towards the total number of employees in that month.
  3. If the employer has opened an MPF account and set up an ORSO scheme for the same employee at the same time, or if the employer has set up more than one MPF-exempted ORSO scheme for the same employee, this employee will only be counted as one headcount for the purpose of calculating the “committed headcount of paid employees”.

No. Employers who participate in the second tranche of ESS are only required to undertake not to “implement redundancies” and to spend all the wage subsidies of ESS for a particular month on paying wages to the employees for the same month during the subsidy period (i.e. from September to November 2020). Nonetheless, the ESS Secretariat and processing agent will act on complaint and perform sample checking to ascertain if the employees aged 65 or above as shown on employers’ MPF record certificates provided by MPF trustees are actually employed by the applicant. Employers are reminded to provide information on the wages of employees aged 65 or above for the months of September to November 2020 to their MPF trustees for auditing purpose.



4. Calculation of Subsidy

A. Calculation of wage subsidies for the “specified month”

Employers who have set up MPF-exempted Occupational Retirement Schemes Ordinance (ORSO) schemes (including ORSO registered schemes or ORSO exempted schemes) can apply for wage subsidies in respect of employees who are members of their ORSO schemes. It should be noted that employers can only apply for employees who are Hong Kong Identity Card holders.

Moreover, employers will be notified by relevant departments in writing that they cannot apply for wage subsidies in respect of the following types of employees as their wages are fully subsidised by the Government:

  1. employees in government-funded organisations whose wages are fully funded by the Government; and
  2. dedicated employees engaged by government outsourced service contractors/consultants to implement or deliver these contracts.

Employers can still apply for wage subsidies for their employees whose wages are not fully funded by the Government (Please refer to Part 2 - “Eligibility”). Regarding the application to the second tranche of wage subsidies, the Employment Support Scheme (ESS) Secretariat has, through the government departments concerned, notified the relevant organisations about the above eligibility.

It should be noted that employers who have applied for the Catering Business (Social Distancing) Subsidy Scheme in respect of the employees in the licensed premises (including applications being processed or approved) cannot apply for ESS wage subsidies in respect of the same employees. In addition, green minibus and local ferry operators who have applied for ESS wage subsidies in respect of their employees aged 65 or above are not allowed to apply, in respect of the same employees, for subsidies under the subsidy scheme of the Transport Department specifically designed for green minibus and local ferry operators hiring employees aged 65 or above.

Employers applying for the second tranche of wage subsidy can choose any one month between December 2019 and March 2020 as the “specified month”. The amount of wage subsidies will be calculated based on 50% of the actual wages paid to each employee in the “specified month”, with a wage cap at $18,000 per month. The maximum wage subsidy per employee is $9,000 per month. The employers who have received the first tranche of wage subsidy can choose another month as the “specified month” at the time of making application for the second tranche of wage subsidy.


An illustration on how to calculate the wage subsidy - - An employer has only made ORSO contributions for employees

Company E has chosen January 2020 as the “specified month”

January 2020 - 10 employees hired with a total salary of $200,000

Number of Employees Monthly Wage Per Employee Government Subsidy Per Employee
5 $30,000 $9,000
5 $10,000 $5,000

Total monthly wage subsidies :
($9,000 x 5) + ($5,000 x 5)
= $70,000


The second tranche of wage subsidy (i.e. the total subsidy amount for the three months from September to November 2020) :
$70,000 x 3
= $210,000

For employers who have set up ORSO schemes, they should fill in the actual wages for eligible employees for June and July 2020 in the “designated form” for submission when applying for the second tranche of subsidies. (In respect of employers with employees whose wages are fully funded by the Government and have received notification letters from the relevant government departments, eligible employees are those whose wages are not fully funded by the Government.) The ESS processing agent will take into account the above information to verify whether the employers had used all the wage subsidies to pay the wages of the employees during the subsidy period and whether the total number of paid employees in that month is not less than the “committed headcount of paid employees” (i.e. the total number of paid and unpaid employees in March 2020).

For employers who are in breach of their undertakings during the first subsidy period (i.e. failure to use all the wage subsidies received for a particular month to pay the wages of the employees in the same month and/or total number of paid employees in any one month of the subsidy period is less than the “committed headcount of paid employees”), they have to return the unspent balance of the subsidy and/or pay a penalty to the Government. If the employers’ applications for the second tranche of subsidies are approved, the Government will deduct the relevant amount directly from the subsidies of the second tranche to be granted to them. (Please refer to Part 7 - “Penalty and Monitoring” for details of penalties).


An illustration on the claw back of the first tranche of wage subsidies and/or penalty - An employer has to pay the claw back and penalty to the Government due to the breach of their undertakings in June and July 2020

Company A has chosen January 2020 as the “specified month”

January 2020 - 20 employees hired with a total salary of $300,000

Number of Employees Monthly Wage Per Employee Government Subsidy Per Employee
10 $20,000 $9,000
10 $10,000 $5,000

(a) Wage subsidies of the second tranche to be received by Company A -

Monthly wage subsidies :
($9,000 x 10) + ($5,000 x 10)
= $140,000


Wage subsidies of the second tranche: $140,000 x 3 = $420,000 (i.e. the total amount of subsidies for three months from September to November 2020)



(b) Claw back and penalty to be paid by Company A to the Government for the first tranche of wage subsidies -

Assuming that the total number of employees in March 2020 (i.e. “committed headcount of paid employees”): 20
Applicable penalty percentage (10-49 employees): 20%
The employer receives $140,000 of wage subsidies per month during the first tranche (i.e. from June to August 2020)


The number of paid employees and the total payroll expenses per month in June and July 2020 (i.e. the first two months of the subsidy period under the first tranche) are as follows:

 No content Number of paid employees Total payroll expenses Subsidies to be clawed back by the Government Penalty to be paid due to staff redundancy
June 2020 16(Assuming that 4 employees with monthly salary of $20,000 were made redundant) $220,000 $0 $140,000 x 20% x 20% = $5,600
July 2020 20 $120,000 $140,000 - $120,000 = $20,000 $0

Penalty to be paid due to staff redundancy: The number of paid employees was 16 in June 2020, which was 4 less than the “committed headcount of paid employees” (20) in March 2020, representing a decrease of 20% (4 ÷ 20 x 100%). Penalty to be paid by the employer for June = $140,000 (subsidies) x 20% (headcount reduction percentage) x 20% (penalty percentage to be applied to the employer) = $5,600.


Subsidies to be clawed back by the Government: As the total payroll expenses ($120,000) in July 2020 were less than the monthly wage subsidies ($140,000), the Government will claw back the unspent balance of the subsidy ($20,000) for that month.


The total amount of penalty and claw back for the employer in June and July 2020 (i.e. the first two months of the first tranche of subsidy) = $5,600 + $20,000 = $25,600

Therefore, the actual amount of subsidy to be received by Company A under the second tranche will be :
($420,000 - $25,600) = $394,400 (i.e. the difference between (a) and (b) above)

When employers submit applications for the second tranche of wage subsidies, they have to choose a “specified month” within the period from December 2019 to March 2020 for the purpose of calculating the wage subsidies. The amount of subsidies to be received in the second tranche will be determined by the number of employees and their actual wages in the “specified month”. Employers who have received the first tranche of wage subsidies may choose another month as the “specified month” when applying for the second tranche of wage subsidies.

As for employers under ORSO schemes, the amount of wages subsidies would be calculated based on the actual wages paid to the employees during the “specified month”. If the employer has set up more than one OSRO scheme for the same employee, he/she will have to submit this employee’s actual wage under one of the ORSO schemes only for the calculation of subsidy amount.

No. The wage subsidies to be received by employers for September to November 2020 under the second tranche must be used to pay the wages of the employees for September, October and November 2020 correspondingly, meaning that the employer’s expenditure on wages for September, October and November 2020 must not be lower than the amount of subsidies for that particular month.

There is no upper limit on the total amount of subsidies that each employer can receive. However, only a maximum subsidy of $9,000 can be received for each employee per month according to the specified calculation method of subsidies.

Eligible employers participating in the second tranche of ESS must provide an undertaking not to implement “redundancy” during the subsidy period (i.e. the number of paid employees in each month during the subsidy period must not be smaller than the “committed headcount of paid employees” (i.e. the total number of paid and unpaid employees as shown on the MPF record certificates in March 2020)) and to spend all the Government wage subsidies on paying wages to their employees.

If the employer has set up more than one MPF-exempted ORSO scheme for the same employee, he/she will have to submit this employee’s actual wage under one of the ORSO schemes only for the calculation of subsidies.

If the employer has opened an MPF account and an ORSO account for the same employee at the same time, only the Relevant Income of this employee's MPF account will be taken into account for the calculation of subsidies. This employee will only be counted as one headcount for the purpose of calculating the “committed headcount of paid employees”.


B. Calculation of the number of employees in the “specified month”

As for employers who have set up ORSO schemes for his/her employees, only those Hong Kong Identity Card holders may be counted towards the number of employees in the “specified month” in applying for subsidies.


C. Staff changes during the “specified month”

The wage subsidies are calculated based on the number of employees and their actual wages in the “specified month”. If the employer has set up an ORSO scheme and provides the record of wages payment for an employee in that “specified month”, the employer may still apply for the subsidy for that employee even if he/she has resigned, but all the subsidies received must be spent on paying wages to employees in full.

The amount of subsidies for new employees will be calculated based on the actual wages paid by the employers in the “specified month”. However, such employees should have become members of the relevant ORSO schemes on or before 31 March 2020 (i.e. without retrospective effect).

The wage subsidies for those employees aged 65 or above will be calculated based on their actual wages paid in the “specified month”.


D. Change of employees’ wages in the “specified month”

Employers may choose any one month from December 2019 to March 2020 as the “specified month”. The subsidies will be calculated based on the number of employees (but excluding employees on no-pay leave and also excluding employees whose default mandatory contributions (excluding surcharge) in the “specified month” have not been settled on or before 7 May 2020) and their wages actually paid by the employer in the “specified month”.

After the application has been approved, the number of paid employees (excluding employees on no-pay leave) in any one month of the subsidy period from September to November 2020 cannot be less than the “committed headcount of paid employees” (i.e. the total number of paid and unpaid employees in March 2020). In addition, the employer should spend all the wage subsidies received under the second tranche on paying wages to their employees in September, October and November 2020 correspondingly (i.e. the employer’s expenditure on wages for September, October and November 2020 must not be lower than the amount of subsidies for that particular month). This arrangement can encourage employers to pay salaries to their employees who are on no-pay leave.

Regardless of whether the salary level of an employee is higher (e.g. double payment/contract gratuity) or lower (e.g. underemployment/sick leave, etc.) than usual, the subsidy will be calculated based on the actual wage of the employee in that month.


E. Scope of wages of employees in the “specified month”

“Wages” refer to actual wages paid in the “specified month”, which may include any wages, salaries, leave pay, fees, commissions, bonuses, gratuities, perquisites or allowances, but excludes severance payments and long service payments.

The amount of subsidy is based on the actual wages paid by the employer. The actual wages may include basic wages, salaries, commissions, bonuses or allowances. Backpay in the “specified month” chosen by the employer can also be taken into account.

The amount of subsidies is based on the actual wage paid by the employer. The actual wages may include wages, salaries, commissions, bonuses or allowances. Backpay in the “specified month” chosen by the employer can also be taken into account.

For employees whose employers have set up ORSO schemes for them and they have become members of the relevant ORSO schemes on or before 31 March 2020 (i.e. with no retrospective effect), their employers may apply for subsidies in respect of these employees no matter whether they are full-time or part-time employees.

The amount of subsidy is calculated based on the actual wages paid by employers. The actual wages may include wages, salaries, commissions, bonuses or allowances, irrespective of the basis of payment.



5. Application Procedures

Employers must submit their ESS applications under the registered company name of the MPF/ORSO scheme accounts opened for their employees, and provide relevant information (e.g. name of the company/corporation/organisation, Business Registration Number, registration number under the Societies Ordinance or the Education Ordinance, non-governmental organisation code assigned by the Social Welfare Department, MPF account/ORSO registration/exemption number, etc.) in the online application form.

Each employer (company/corporation/organisation/natural person) should submit an independent application by including all of the MPF accounts and/or ORSO schemes in the same application. If the subsidiary companies/branches of an entity have set up different MPF accounts and/or ORSO schemes for their employees, each subsidiary company/branch should submit an individual application. On the other hand, if a holding company has enrolled the employees in its subsidiary companies/branches into the same MPF account or set up the same ORSO scheme, the holding company should submit one application only.

Since each employer is regarded as an independent applicant under ESS, the requirements to provide undertakings, calculation of the amount of subsidy, the monitoring and penalty arrangements will apply to individual employers.

All MPF/ORSO schemes under the same employer must choose the same “specified month” for the calculation of subsidies.

The applicant should send an email to enquiry@employmentsupport.hk from the registered email address submitted in the application form in the first tranche of ESS to explain the employer’s situation as early as possible within the application period setting out the name, the employer’s MPF Registration/Participation Number or ORSO Registration/Exemption Number before and after re-structuring or spin-off of the organisation in the email with the relevant supporting documents.

Employers are required to provide information on actual wages of relevant employees in their applications. Wages may include wages, salaries, leave pay, fees, commissions, bonuses, gratuities, perquisites or allowances, but excludes severance payments and long service payments under the Employment Ordinance (Chapter 57, Laws of Hong Kong).

Employers who have set up MPF-exempted ORSO schemes should provide the following information in the online application form –

  • Name and address of applicant (company/corporation/organisation/natural person)
  • Business Registration Number or other registration numbers (for example, company registration number, registration number under the Societies Ordinance or the Education Ordinance, non-governmental organisation code assigned by the Social Welfare Department, etc.) (The name of applicant must be the same as the name of business/corporation stated in therelevant registration certificates, except natural persons)
  • Name of the MPF-exempted ORSO Scheme, its MPF Exemption Number and ORSO Registration / Exemption Number
  • “Specified month” for the calculation of wage subsidies
  • Number of eligible employees in March 2020 (For employers with employees whose wages are fully funded by the Government and have received notification letters from the relevant government departments, eligible employees are those whose wages are not fully funded by the Government.)
  • Information of the Hong Kong bank account for receiving wage subsidies (including name of bank, name of the bank account holder and the bank account number) (the applicant’s name must be the same as that of the bank account holder)
  • The name, email address and mobile phone number of applicant’s authorised representative

Moreover, the following supporting documents should also be uploaded or submitted via other specified means when completing the application form –

  • Scanned copies of the exemption certificate(s) issued by the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority in accordance with section 5 of the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Ordinance
  • “Designated form” in the application form to fill in the information of eligible employees, including the actual wages of each eligible employee paid by the employer in the “specified month”. (For employers with employees whose wages are fully funded by the Government and have received notification letters from the relevant government departments, eligible employees are those whose wages are not fully funded by the Government.)
  • Scanned copies of Business Registration Certificate(s) or the document(s) of the registration of other organisation(s)
  • Scanned copies of the applicant’s bank account number for receiving wage subsidies and bank statement(s)

Please note that any omission of information may cause delay in vetting the applications.

Yes. For details, please refer to Q&A 5.7.

The application number and password that applicants received when applying for subsidies in the first tranche of ESS are also applicable to the second tranche application. Applicants can type in the application number, password and telephone number of the contact person for the first tranche to logon to the application webpage (www.ess.gov.hk) to submit application for the second tranche. The application webpage will automatically display information submitted for the first tranche of application. Applicants should check if all the information therein is correct.

Regarding “specified month”, applicants who have already received wage subsidies in the first tranche can choose a different “specified month” when applying for wage subsidies in the second tranche. If applicants choose the same “specified month” as that of the first tranche in their application for the second tranche of subsidies, they do not need to input or upload the relevant ORSO scheme information or documents again. If necessary, applicants are allowed to change certain information (e.g. additional ORSO Scheme Registration/ Exemption Number, e-mail address or mobile phone number) in the online application form. For details, please refer to the application website and online application form.

If applicants choose a “specified month” different from that in the first tranche when applying for the second tranche of subsidies, they should follow the instructions in the online application form to upload documents or update the information (e.g. providing additional ORSO scheme information) where necessary.

Please note that, generally speaking, no amendment to the information, including the “specified month” chosen, on the application form will be accepted after the confirmed completion and submission of the online application.

Applicants applying for the second tranche of wage subsidies are not allowed to change their bank account information in the online application form for receiving subsidies. If applicants need to amend the bank account information due to special circumstances, they should logon to the Employment Support Scheme Application Service Portal according to the instructions in the online application form, after successfully submitting the application form of the second tranche of ESS, and upload the relevant bank statement or other related supporting documents for verification and follow up.

In addition, employers (whether there is a change of the “specified month” or not) are required to fill in the actual wages of each eligible employee in June and July 2020 in the “designated form” when applying for the second tranche of subsidies. Information on the actual wages of the relevant employees in August 2020 should also be submitted on the Employment Support Scheme Application Service Portal on or before 30 September 2020 to the Secretariat and/or ESS processing agent to verify if the applicants are in breach of their undertakings. For employers with some but not all employees whose wages are fully funded by the Government and have received notification letters from the relevant government departments, eligible employees are those whose wages are not fully funded by the Government.

Applications will be processed only upon completion of the online application procedures.

Please upload the required supporting documents by scanning or taking the front vertical shot of such documents. To speed up the vetting processing, the scanned copies or photos must clearly display the text content.

Please note that supporting documents should be submitted in scanned format if more than one document is to be uploaded.

As for employers who have set up MPF-exempted ORSO schemes, they have to provide the actual wages paid to each eligible employee in the “specified month” and total numbers of eligible employees in March 2020 in the “designated form” contained in the online application form. Employers do not need to include personal information of the employees concerned (e.g. their names and Hong Kong Identity Card numbers).

No.

Unless employers have received wage subsidies in the first tranche of ESS and choose the same “specified month” as that of the first tranche in their application for the second tranche of subsidies, they have to fill in the actual wages of the eligible employees in the new “specified month” and the total number of employees in March 2020 in the online application form for the calculation of the amount of subsidies and the “committed headcount of paid employees”. (Please refer to Q&A 5.7).

Employers are required to provide information on the actual wages of the employees under the ORSO schemes in applying ESS. Actual wages may include wages, salary, subsidies, allowances, commissions, bonuses, but not severance payments and long service payments. The amount of actual wages should be supported by relevant documents, for example auto-pay transfer remittance slip from banks, payment records, records of employees’ receipt, ORSO contribution records etc., for calculating the amount of subsidies.

Only online application is accepted under ESS. We will set up a help desk during the application period (i.e. 31 August to 13 September) of the second tranche of ESS to assist applicants in need for completing the online applications.


The address of the help desk is as follows –

  • Room 1301, AT Tower, 180 Electric Road, North Point

Service Hours:

  • Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays), 9 am to 6 pm

The online application period for the second tranche of ESS is from 7:00 am on 31 August to 11:59 pm on 13 September. The system for online application will cease to operate after 13 September.

You have to fill out the online application form again if the browser or application webpage is closed before submission.

An applicant has 60 minutes to complete and submit the application.

Upon confirmation of completion of the online application, the applicant will receive a confirmation email and SMS to acknowledge the receipt of the application and a computer-generated application number and password will be issued (for employers who have applied for wage subsidies in the first tranche, the application number and password will be the same in the second tranche). If the applicant’s Internet is disconnected when completing the application form, the application procedures may not be complete and applicants are required to complete a new online application form. Please note that it is only when the applicant receives a confirmation email and SMS that the online application procedures are considered complete and will be processed.

It is expected that most eligible employers who have provided accurate and complete information will receive wage subsidies in three to four weeks after submission of application. Applicants are therefore advised to ensure that the information they submit meet all requirements under ESS to facilitate early completion of the vetting process and disbursement of the subsidy. For employers whose applications involve ORSO schemes, or government funded organisations, government outsourced service contractors or consultants which have received notification in writing by relevant government departments, their applications may require longer processing time. Please note that any omission of information may delay the vetting process of the application.

In addition, if employers who received the first tranche of wage subsidies have violated the undertaking (i.e. failing to use all the wage subsidies received for a particular month to pay the wages of their employees in the same month and/or the number of employees on the payroll in any one month of the subsidy period is less than the “committed headcount of paid employees” (meaning the total number of paid or unpaid staff in March 2020)), and have to return to the Government the unspent balance of wage subsidies and/or pay a penalty to the Government, their applications may require a longer processing time.

The ESS Secretariat will notify applicants via e-mail and SMS message that they may check the application result on the online system before the disbursement of wage subsidies to employers/ one-off lump-sum subsidy to SEPs.

Applicants may also logon to the ESS website to check the application status and results (including the approved amount of subsidies).

Generally speaking, upon completion and confirmation of the online application, applicants are not allowed to amend the information (including the chosen “specified month”) submitted in the application form.

Should there be any special circumstances, applicants should inform the ESS processing agent, through the Employment Support Scheme Application Service Portal, using the application number and password for follow-up.

If an applicant has lost his/her application number, he/she is required to send an e-mail via their registered email account to enquiry@employmentsupport.hk. Employers are required to provide in the e-mail their company names, and MPF scheme registration/participation numbers and/or ORSO scheme registration/exemption numbers. The ESS Secretariat/processing agent will issue the application numbers by e-mail upon verification of applicants’ identities.



6. Application Results and Disbursement Arrangements

Since 22 June, the Employment Support Scheme (ESS) Secretariat has made available, by batches, on the ESS website(www.ess.gov.hk) the list of the employers who have received the wage subsidies in the first tranche, the amount of wage subsidies disbursed and the “committed headcount of paid employees”.

For the second tranche of ESS, the Secretariat will upload, by batches, onto the above website the same information upon the completion of disbursement of subsidies to the employers whose applications have been approved.

Upon successful submission of the application, the applicant will receive an email and an SMS message acknowledging receipt of his/her application by the system and be assigned an application number and a password (for employers who have received wage subsidies in the first tranche, the application number and password will be the same in the second tranche). Applicants may check their application status and results online on the ESS website anytime.

After completion of vetting of the applications and before disbursement of wage subsidies to employers or one-off lump-sum subsidy to self-employed persons, the Secretariat will notify the applicants via e-mails and SMS messages that they may check their application results on the webpage.

The applicant should inform the ESS processing agent, through the Employment Support Scheme Application Service Portal, using the application number and password for follow-up, or send e-mail to enquiry@employmentsupport.hk, or call 1836-122 or visit our help desk during service hours.

If applicants would like to request for a review of the aforementioned wage subsidy amount for the second tranche of the ESS (including the deductions in respect of subsidy to be clawed back and / or penalty for the first tranche (if applicable)) and committed headcount of paid employees, please select “REQUEST FOR REVIEW” in the result notification webpage within 7 days from the date of issuance of the application result notification. Please note that that once a request for review is lodged, subsidy disbursement will be withheld until the review is completed. No overdue requests for review of application result will be accepted.



7. Penalty and Monitoring

For an employer receiving the second tranche of subsidies, if it fails to use all the subsidies received for a particular month to pay the wages of its employees in the same month during the three-month subsidy period (i.e. from September to November 2020), the Government will claw back the unspent balance of the subsidies of that month.

Subsidies to be clawed back by the Government ($) = Subsidies received for a particular month ($) Actual payroll expenses for a particular month ($)

Furthermore, if the total number of paid employees (excluding those on no-pay leave) in any one month of the subsidy period of the second tranche is less than the number of employees (whether paid or unpaid) in March 2020 (i.e. “committed headcount of paid employees”), the employer will have to pay a penalty to the Government. The penalty for a particular month during the subsidy period is calculated as follows:

Subsidies received for a particular month ($)
x
Headcount reduction percentage for a particular month (%)
x
Penalty percentage (%)
Headcount reduction
percentage
for a particular month (%)
=
Committed headcount
of paid employees
Total no. of paid employees
in a particular month

over Committed headcount of paid employees
x
100%

The penalty percentage is determined by the employer’s “committed headcount of paid employees”, viz, the larger the number of employees, the higher the penalty percentage. Details are set out below:

Committed headcount of paid employees Penalty Percentage
Less than 10 10%
10 - 49 20%
50 - 99 40%
100 - 499 60%
500 or more 80%

Examples of penalty:


Example 1: For employers with “committed headcount of paid employees” of less than 10

“Committed headcount of paid employees”: 5
Applicable penalty percentage (less than 10 employees): 10%
The amount of the second tranche of subsidy received by the employer is $120,000 (i.e. the monthly subsidy from September to November 2020 is $40,000).


The total number of paid employees and total wages paid in each month of the subsidy period are as follows:

 No content Total number of paid employees Total wages paid Subsidies to be clawed back by the Government Penalty of making redundancies
September 2020 3 $60,000 $0 $40,000 X 40% X 10% = $1,600
October 2020 5 $30,000 $40,000 - $30,000 = $10,000 $0
November 2020 7 $70,000 $0 $0

Penalty of making redundancies:Since the total number of paid employees in September 2020 is 3, representing a reduction of 2 employees as compared to the “committed headcount of paid employees” (5 employees) or by 40% (2 ÷ 5 x 100%), the amount of penalty payable by the employer for September = $40,000 (subsidies received) x 40% (headcount reduction percentage) x 10% (penalty percentage applicable to the employer) = $1,600.

Subsidies to be clawed back by the Government: Since the total wages paid in October 2020 ($30,000) is less than the monthly wage subsidy in any one month ($40,000), the Government will claw back the unspent balance of the subsidy ($10,000).

Penalty for the second tranche of subsidies and the subsidies clawed back = $1,600 + $10,000 = $11,600


Example 2: For employers with “committed headcount of paid employees” of 500 or more

“Committed headcount of paid employees”: 1 000
Applicable penalty percentage (500 or more employees): 80%
The amount of the second tranche of subsidy received by the employer is $15,000,000 (i.e. the monthly wage subsidy from September to November 2020 is $5,000,000).


The total number of paid employees and total wages paid in each month of the subsidy period are as follows:

 No content Total number of paid employees Total wages paid Subsidies to be clawed back by the Government Penalty of making redundancies
September 2020 900 $6,000,000 $0 $5,000,000 X 10% X 80% = $400,000
October 2020 1000 $4,800,000 $5,000,000 - $4,800,000 = $200,000 $0
November 2020 1200 $10,800,000 $0 $0

Penalty of making redundancies: Since the number of paid employees in September 2020 is 900, representing a reduction of 100 employees as compared to the “committed headcount of paid employees” (1 000 employees) or by 10% (100 ÷ 1 000 x 100%), the amount of penalty payable by the employer for September = $5,000,000 (subsidies received) x 10% (headcount reduction percentage) x 80% (penalty percentage applicable to the employer) = $400,000.


Subsidies to be clawed back by the Government: Since the total wages paid in October 2020 ($4,800,000) is less than the monthly wage subsidy in any one month ($5,000,000), the Government will claw back the unspent balance of the subsidy ($200,000).


Penalty for the second tranche of subsidies and the subsidies clawed back = $400,000 + $200,000 = $600,000


In addition to the above penalty, for employers who have received the first tranche of subsidies and participate in the second tranche, the Government reserves the right to reject an employer’s application for the second tranche of wage subsidies if the Secretariat, in its absolute discretion, considers that the magnitude of “redundancies made” by the employer in its company/organisation during the subsidy period of the first tranche (i.e. from June to August 2020) was substantial, and the employer fails to prove to the satisfaction of the Secretariat its intention to employ persons to replace those being laid off and/or re-employ those who have been laid off, or there is no reasonable explanations provided for the "redundancies made" by it. Besides, for employers who have received the second tranche of wage subsidies, the Government reserves the right to claw back the second tranche of wage subsidies disbursed to an employer (in full or in part) if the Secretariat, in its absolute discretion, considers that the magnitude of “redundancies made” by the employer in its company/organisation during the subsidy period of the second tranche (i.e. from September to November 2020) was substantial, and the employer concerned fails to prove to the satisfaction of the Secretariat its intention to employ persons to replace those being laid off and/or re-employ those who have been laid off, or there is no reasonable explanations provided for the "redundancies made" by it.

Besides, for employers who have been granted wage subsidies in the first tranche and participate in the second tranche, in addition to the penalty as specified above, the Government reserves the right to reject an employer’s application for the second tranche of wage subsidies (or, if the subsidies have been disbursed, require the employer to return the subsidies received (in full or in part) within a specified period) if the Secretariat, in its absolute discretion, considers that the employer has, during the subsidy period of the first tranche (i.e. from June to August 2020), engaged in conduct which directly or indirectly violates the objective of retaining employment under ESS, or is contrary to public interest. Furthermore, the Government reserves the right to require an employer to return the second tranche of wage subsidies received (in full or in part) within a specified period if the Secretariat, in its absolute discretion, considers that the employer has, during the subsidy period of the second tranche (i.e. from September to November 2020), engaged in conduct which directly or indirectly violates the objective of retaining employment under ESS, or is contrary to public interest.

The “committed headcount of paid employees” includes the total number of employees (regardless of whether they were paid or not) in March 2020, including employees who have tendered resignation or made redundant in that month but remained in the employers’ Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) contribution records for March / salary payment records for March in respect of employers with ORSO schemes.

Yes. Employers receiving wage subsidies under ESS are required to undertake that the total number of paid employees in any one month during the subsidy period (regarding the second tranche of subsidies, that means from September to November 2020) will not be less than the “committed headcount of paid employees” (i.e. the total number of employees as of March 2020 (regardless of whether they were paid or not)) , or they will have to pay a penalty to the Government.

We believe that employers have taken into account various situations that may affect their business during the subsidy period when submitting applications and giving undertakings. Therefore, if employers expect reduction in the number of employees during the subsidy period, they must fill the vacancies to maintain the “committed headcount of paid employees”.

ESS does not forbid employers to redeploy their employees when receiving wage subsidies. However, it should be noted that both the undertaking and penalty under ESS are related to the individual applicant. Applicants who have received wage subsidies must ensure that the number of paid employees in each month during the subsidy period should not be less than the “committed headcount of paid employees”. It should be noted that the ESS processing agent will use the actual wages and total number of paid employees in the MPF record certificates and/or ORSO contributions record in the subsidy period to determine if an employer has violated the undertaking.

After the application has been approved, employers should make sure that the number of paid employees (excluding those on no-pay leave) in any one month during the subsidy period should not be less than the “committed headcount of paid employees”, and the employer should spend all the wage subsidies in paying wages to their employees. Employers may hire additional employees to support their business operations if employees are asking for taking no-pay leave.

As regards employers who have set up ORSO schemes for their employees, they have to make available the supporting documents (e.g. ORSO contribution records, autopay remittance records issued by banks, salary payment records, and employees’ acknowledgement records, etc.) about the actual wages paid to their employees in the “specified month” and the number of employees in March 2020 for checking by the ESS processing agent.

When processing applications, the ESS processing agent will verify the information submitted by the employers and conduct sample on-site checking of the original copies of wage records, so as to monitor the applications, the usage of the wage subsidies and whether there are any redundancies.

The data collected under ESS is primarily the number of employees and their wages. To prevent applicants from using false or incomplete information to apply for ESS, employers should retain the original copies of the relevant documents for two years for the purpose of auditing.

Relevant departments of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government have issued letters to remind relevant organisations of the eligibility of ESS. Applicants have to provide undertakings to ensure that the application will not cover non-eligible employees (e.g. employees whose wages are fully funded by the Government). Applicants would bear legal liability for furnishing any false information. If there is reasonable suspicion of the information provided in the application, the ESS Secretariat would consult the relevant government departments. Furthermore, the Government will conduct spot checks and request applicants to provide additional information for follow-up and on-site audit. If there is reasonable suspicion of false information we would also consider making referrals to law enforcement agencies for investigation.

Employers who have set up ORSO schemes for employees also need to submit information of the actual wages and the number of employees during the subsidy period for auditing.

In addition, after the vetting of applications and the disbursement of subsidies, the ESS Secretariat and/or its processing agent will conduct sample verification of the information submitted by the employers, and conduct on-site checking at those employers’ organisations.

If employers fail to use all the subsidies to pay the wages in any one month during the subsidy period, receive more subsidies than they are entitled to or receive subsidies erroneously, the Government will claw back the relevant amount of subsidies. As required by the Secretariat and/or the processing agent, applicants have to return the subsidies to the Government as soon as possible. If the employers’ applications for both the first and second tranches of subsidies are approved, and they are in breach of their undertakings during the first subsidy period so that they have to return the unspent balance of the subsidy and/or pay a penalty to the Government, the Government will deduct the relevant amount directly from the second tranche of subsidies to the employers concerned.

If it comes to the attention of the ESS Secretariat and/or the processing agent that an applicant is undergoing liquidation before disbursement of subsidies, the Secretariat and/or the processing agent reserve all the rights to refuse disbursement of the subsidies.

We understand that many employers are striving to keep their business afloat so as to tide over the difficult times with their employees. The aim of the second tranche of ESS is to help employers pay the wages of their employees from September to November 2020. Employers receiving the subsidies have undertaken that the total number of employees on the payroll in any one month of the subsidy period will not be less than the “committed headcount of paid employees”. They also have to use all the wage subsidies to pay the wages of the employees and/or make MPF contributions for them. We believe that employers have taken into account situations that may affect their businesses during the subsidy period when submitting their applications and providing undertakings. Therefore, in the unfortunate event of closure of a company, the Government will claw back the unspent balance of the subsidies after its closure or during the subsidy period, and impose a penalty.

The ESS adopts a transparent approach to enable monitoring by employees concerned and the society. The ESS Secretariat has uploaded onto the ESS website the list of employers who have received subsidies in the first tranche of ESS, the amount of wage subsidies received and their “committed headcount of paid employees”. As such, employees concerned and members of the public will be informed of the employer’s receipt of subsidy. The Secretariat will publish, by batches, on the website the list of employers who have received subsidies in the second tranche of ESS, the amount of wage subsidies received and their “committed headcount of paid employees” after the disbursement of the subsidies. Should an employer be found to have abused or violated the conditions of ESS, the employees concerned or members of the public may report to the ESS Secretariat. The authorities will take follow-up actions proactively.

Telephone hotline: 1836-122
Email: enquiry@employmentsupport.hk


For enquiries relating to provisions under the Employment Ordinance or conditions of employment pertaining to labour disputes, please contact the Labour Relations Division (LRD) of the Labour Department:

Email: enquiry@labour.gov.hk

Branch offices of LRD: https://www.labour.gov.hk/eng/tele/lr1.htm

Enquiry hotline: 2717-1771 (the hotline is operated by 1823)

Applicants must provide true, complete and accurate information when making the applications, otherwise, the relevant applications may be rendered invalid, rejected and/or disqualified. Appropriate monitoring and auditing mechanisms are in place under the ESS. During and after the vetting of applications, the ESS Secretariat and/or its processing agent will verify the information submitted by the employers, and conduct on-site checking at those employers’ organisations. Any employer who is found to have made a false statement, misinterpreted or concealed the facts, or furnished false or misleading documents or information to the Government, Secretariat and/or processing agent in an attempt to deceive the Government and/or its appointed agencies is a criminal offence, and could be subject to criminal prosecution.



8. Enquiry

Applicants may seek assistance via the following channels:

E-mail to enquiry@employmentsupport.hk; or
Call 1836-122 during service hours


Service hours of hotline:

  • Before or after application period:
    Monday to Friday, 9 am to 6 pm
  • During application period (31 August to 13 September 2020):
    31 August to 9 September Monday to Sunday (including public holidays), 9 am to 6 pm
    10 September to 12 September 9 am to 8 pm
    13 September 9 am to 0:30 am of the following/next day

Applicants may make an appointment with the help desk for assistance during the application period through the hotline above.


The addresses of the help desk is as follow:

  • Room 1301, AT Tower, 180 Electric Road, North Point

Service hours of the help desk:

  • Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays), 9 am to 6 pm


The FAQs provided on this website are for reference only. The ESS Secretariat and/ or the Processing Agent may amend any FAQ to cater for different circumstances and does not accept any responsibilities to the applicants and any third-parties in connection with any amendments to the FAQs on this website.


1. General Information

ESS provides time-limited financial support to employers to retain their employees who may otherwise be made redundant. Employers who participate in ESS must provide an undertaking not to implement redundancy during the subsidy period and to spend all the wage subsidies on paying wages to their employees. ESS will also provide a one-off lump-sum subsidy to persons who have a “Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) self-employed person (SEP) account”.

ESS provides a six-month wage subsidy for eligible employers. The subsidies will be disbursed to employers in two tranches, with the first tranche covering the period from June to August 2020 (application of which had been closed) and the second tranche from September to November 2020.

ESS also provides a one-off lump-sum subsidy of $7,500 to eligible SEPs. Please note that SEPs who have received a one-off subsidy of $7,500 in the first tranche of ESS cannot apply again in the second tranche.

When making online applications for ESS, employers should undertake and warrant that they will –

  1. not implement redundancies during the subsidy period; and
  2. spend all the wage subsidies on paying wages to their employees.

For an employer who has received the second tranche of subsidies, if he/she fails to use all the wage subsidies received for a particular month during the three-month subsidy period (i.e. from September to November 2020) to pay the wages of his/her employees in the same month, the Government will claw back the unspent balance of the subsidy.

Furthermore, if the number of employees on the payroll in any one month of the subsidy period is less than the “committed headcount of paid employees” (i.e. the total number of paid and unpaid employees in March 2020), the employer will have to pay a penalty to the Government (please refer to Section 7 – “Penalty and Monitoring”).

The Government has exempted the wage subsidies received by employers and the one-off lump-sum subsidy received by SEPs under ESS from taxation. That said, wages earned by employees (regardless of whether the wages are subsidised by ESS or fully paid by employers) are treated as income chargeable to salaries tax under the Inland Revenue Ordinance (Cap. 112).

Employers have to make MPF contributions in respect of the wages paid to their “regular employees” (i.e. employees who are at least 18 but under 65 years of age and have been employed in any industry for a continuous period of 60 days or more) under the existing arrangements, regardless of whether the wages are subsidised by ESS or fully paid by the employers.

Employers must spend all the Government’s wage subsidies on paying wages to their employees and cannot use them for other purposes, including non-cash benefits for employees or donations.

Employers must spend all the Government’s wage subsidies from ESS on paying wages to their employees and cannot use them for other purposes, including the retention/deduction of certain portion of the ESS subsidy for making MPF or ORSO schemes contributions.

Employers must spend all the Government’s wage subsidies for a particular month to pay the wages of his/her employees in the same month. While employers can use the subsidies for wage increase or hire of additional manpower, they should not reserve the wages subsidies for future use.

Employers who meet the eligibility criteria may apply for the second tranche of subsidy. The chance of success in applying for the second tranche of subsidy depends on whether employers meet the eligibility criteria.

Yes. Employers who meet the eligibility criteria may apply for the second tranche of subsidy.

Generally speaking, if an employer who has received the wage subsidy under the first tranche of ESS violates the undertaking, the Government will claw back the unspent balance of the subsidy and/ or require the employer to pay a penalty according to the penalty arrangements under the first tranche, but will not reject the employer’s application for the second tranche of subsidy.

Nevertheless, the Government reserves the right to reject an employer's application for the second tranche of wage subsidies if the Secretariat considers that the magnitude of “redundancies made” by the employer in its company/organisation during the subsidy period of the first tranche (i.e. from June to August 2020) was substantial, and the employer fails to prove to the satisfaction of the Secretariat its intention to employ persons to replace those being laid off and/or re-employ those who have been laid off, or there is no reasonable explanations provided for the "redundancies made" by it.

Eligible employers under ESS must have set up MPF accounts or ORSO schemes for their employees. Each employer (company/ corporation/ organisation/ natural person) should submit an independent application by including all of the MPF accounts and/or ORSO schemes in the same application.

If the subsidiary companies/branches of an entity have set up different MPF accounts and/or ORSO schemes for the employees, each subsidiary company/branch should submit an individual application. On the other hand, if a holding company has enrolled the employees in its subsidiary companies/branches into the same MPF account or set up the same ORSO scheme, then the holding company should submit one application only.

Since each employer is regarded as an independent applicant under ESS, the requirement to provide undertakings, calculation of the amount of subsidy and the monitoring and penalty arrangements will apply to individual employers.

The ESS Secretariat has appointed a professional accounting firm to serve as the ESS processing agent, which assists the Government in the implementation of ESS (including design of the online application portal, calculation of the amount of subsidies, and handling public enquiries, etc.), vetting of applications, complaint handling and auditing of applications to prevent abuses.

MPF trustees will issue certificates on the relevant MPF records for employer and SEP applicants who have participated in MPF schemes to the ESS processing agent for subsidy calculation and application vetting. MPF trustees will not be engaged in the vetting of ESS applications.



2. Eligibility

Generally speaking, with the exception of ineligible employers (please refer to Q&A 2.2), employers who have participated in Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) schemes (including the Master Trust Schemes and Industry Schemes) or who have set up MPF-exempted Occupational Retirement Schemes Ordinance (ORSO) schemes (including the ORSO registered schemes or ORSO exempted schemes) (ORSO schemes), regardless of industries, are eligible.

For employers participating in MPF schemes, it should be noted that the MPF accounts of the relevant employers and their employees applying for the second tranche of wage subsidies1 should have been set up on or before 31 March 2020 (i.e. cannot be backdated to that date or any earlier dates). In other words, employers with MPF accounts set up on or after 1 April 2020 are not eligible.

For employers who have set up ORSO schemes, the employees covered in the application must have become members of the relevant ORSO schemes on or before 31 March 2020 (i.e. cannot be backdated to that date or any earlier dates). In other words, employers who have set up ORSO schemes since 1 April 2020 are not eligible. It should be noted that employers with ORSO schemes may only apply for wage subsidies in respect of their employees who are Hong Kong Identity Card holders.


  • 1 Referring to subsidies for the period from September to November 2020.

The following employers are not eligible for applying ESS –

  • the Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), the Legislative Council of the HKSAR and the Judiciary of the HKSAR;
  • the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the HKSAR, the Office for Safeguarding National Security of the Central People’s Government in the HKSAR, the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China in the HKSAR, and the Hong Kong Garrison of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army;
  • offices of other governments and international organisations;
  • specified statutory bodies and corporations; and
  • specified public organisations, government-owned companies or subvented organisations.

The list of employers belonging to the above categories is at Annex


It should be noted that employers cannot apply for wage subsidies under ESS in respect of “casual employees”2 under the Master Trust Schemes and Industry Schemes, or employees who have applied for the Catering Business (Social Distancing) Subsidy Scheme for licensed premises (including applications being processed or approved). Green minibus and local ferry operators who have applied for ESS wage subsidies in respect of their employees aged 65 or above are not allowed to apply, in respect of the same employees, for the subsidy scheme of the Transport Department specifically designed for green minibus and local ferry operators hiring employees aged 65 or above.


Moreover, employers will receive notification letters from the relevant government departments informing them that they cannot apply for subsidies under ESS in respect of the following types of employees whose wages are fully funded by the Government:

  1. employees in government-funded organisations whose wages are fully funded by the Government; and
  2. dedicated staff engaged by government outsourced service contractors/consultants to implement or deliver these contracts.

Employers may apply for subsidies in respect of those employees whose wages are not fully funded by the Government. The ESS Secretariat will, through the government departments concerned, remind their subvented organisations and outsourced service contractors/consultants of such eligibility criteria in writing regarding the applications for the second tranche of subsidies.


  • 2 The term “casual employees” refers to employees who are at least 18 but under 65 years of age, and are employed in the construction industry or the catering industry on a day-to-day basis or for a fixed period of less than 60 days. (Reference: http://www.mpfa.org.hk/eng/main/glossary/index.jsp)

Employers cannot apply for wage subsidies under ESS in respect of employees who have applied for the Catering Business (Social Distancing) Subsidy Scheme for licensed premises (including applications being processed or approved). After the relevant employers have submitted ESS applications, the ESS processing agent will contact them to request information on the number of their employees who have applied for the Catering Business (Social Distancing) Subsidy Scheme in respect of the licensed premises in the “specified month” and in March 2020 and also the actual wages of these employees in the “specified month”. The actual wages of these employees will not be counted in the calculation of ESS wage subsidies.

Please note that the ESS processing agent reserves the right to approach the relevant government departments for getting access to and checking the information submitted by the applicants for the Catering Business (Social Distancing) Subsidy Scheme during the vetting process so as to verify the particulars declared by the applicants.

Statutory bodies with their day-to-day operations basically run by Government employees are not eligible for ESS.

For statutory bodies whose day-to-day operations are not mainly run by Government employees, if they have hired some but not all employees fully funded by the Government and have received notification letters from the relevant government departments, they may only apply for the subsidies in respect of those employees whose wages are not fully funded by the Government, provided that they have been making MPF contributions or have set up ORSO schemes for these employees (please refer to Section 4 - “Calculation of Subsidy”). Employers need to make a declaration and provide the actual wages of the employees concerned for the purpose of calculating the subsidies.

No. The MPF accounts of employers and employees applying for the second tranche of wage subsidies should have been set up on or before 31 March 2020 (i.e. cannot be backdated to that date or any earlier dates).

Employees of government-funded organisations whose wages are fully funded by the Government are not eligible for the ESS. However, if these organisations have employees whose wages are not fully funded by the Government and that the organisations have been making MPF contributions or have set up ORSO schemes for these employees, they may apply for subsidies in respect of these employees (please refer to Section 4 - “Calculation of Subsidy”). Employers are required to make a declaration and provide the actual wages of the employees concerned for the purpose of calculating the subsidies. Regarding the application for the second tranche of subsidy, the ESS Secretariat will, through the government departments concerned, issue letters to these organisations to remind them of the eligibility of the ESS.

For organisations with individual schemes or projects receiving government funding but have not received the Government’s notification, they can apply for the ESS for employees, for whom they have been making MPF contributions or have set up ORSO schemes.

With the exception of ineligible employers (please refer to Q&A 2.2), all government-funded organisations may apply for the subsidies in respect of those employees whose wages are not fully funded by the Government, provided that they have been making MPF contributions or have set up ORSO schemes for these employees. Employers are required to make a declaration and provide the actual wages of the employees concerned for the purpose of calculating the subsidies. Regarding the applications for the second tranche of subsidy, the ESS Secretariat will, through the government departments concerned, remind such organisations of the above eligibility criteria in writing.

Given that government outsourced service contractors/consultants will continue to receive contract payments from the Government, dedicated staff engaged to implement or deliver government contracts are not eligible for the subsidies. If some of the staff concerned are not working solely for the relevant government contracts but are also working for other private contract(s) at the same time, as their wages are not fully funded by the Government, the government outsourced service contractors/consultants may apply for the subsidies in respect of these staff provided that they have been making MPF contributions or has set up ORSO schemes for the relevant staff (please refer to Section 4 - “Calculation of Subsidy”). Employers are required to make a declaration and provide the actual wages of the employees concerned for the purpose of calculating the subsidies. The ESS Secretariat will, through the government departments concerned, remind such organisations of the above eligibility criteria in writing.

As the employers (subcontractors) have no contractual relationship with the Government, their service fees are paid by the contractors. Provided that the employers have been making MPF contributions or have set up ORSO schemes for their employees, they may apply for the subsidies.

The ESS Secretariat will, through the government departments concerned, remind their subvented organisations and outsourced service contractors/consultants of the eligibility criteria of the ESS in writing, i.e. they can only apply for the subsidy in respect of those employees whose wages are not fully funded by the Government, provided that they have been making MPF contributions or have set up ORSO schemes.

Yes. With the exception of ineligible employers (please refer to Q&A 2.2), all employers who have been making MPF contributions (including the Master Trust Schemes and Industry Schemes) or who have set up ORSO schemes for employees, regardless of industries, are eligible for application.

With the exception of ineligible employers, all employers who have been making MPF contributions (including the Master Trust Schemes and Industry Schemes) or have set up ORSO schemes for employees are eligible. However, employers cannot apply for subsidies under the ESS in respect of the employees who have applied for the Catering Business (Social Distancing) Subsidy Scheme in respect of the licensed premises (including applications being processed or approved) (please refer to Q&A 2.2 and 2.3). Green minibus and local ferry operators who have applied for ESS wage subsidies in respect of their employees aged 65 or above are not allowed to apply, in respect of the same employees, for the subsidy scheme of the Transport Department specifically designed for green minibus and local ferry operators hiring employees aged 65 or above.

With the exception of ineligible employers (please refer to Q&A 2.2 and 2.3), all employers who have been making MPF contributions (including the Master Trust Schemes and Industry Schemes) or have set up ORSO schemes for employees are eligible. It should be noted that employers who have set up ORSO schemes may only apply for wage subsidies in respect of their employees who are Hong Kong Identity Card holders.

Employers who have set up MPF-exempted ORSO schemes (including ORSO registered schemes or ORSO exempted schemes) for their employees may apply for the subsidies in respect of these employees. However, some employers have set up ORSO exempted schemes mainly for non-Hong Kong resident employees. For instance, one of the requirements of ORSO exempted schemes is that no more than either 10% or 50 of the members are Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card holders. The present arrangement is to ensure that the Government wage subsidies are provided for employers whose employees are Hong Kong Identity Card holders.

All applicants, including those who have been granted wage subsidies in the first tranche of the ESS and those who only apply for the second tranche of the ESS, must declare all MPF schemes participated on or after 1 December 2019. They may submit the relevant information when completing the online application form.

Yes. An SEP who is also an employer may apply for the SEP subsidy for himself/herself and the wage subsidies for employees of his/her company as long as he/she meets the eligibility requirements of the ESS.



3. Undertaking

Employers who participate in the second tranche of ESS are required to undertake –

  1. not to “implement redundancy” during the subsidy period of the second tranche (i.e. from September to November 2020), i.e. the total number of employees on the payroll (excluding those on no-pay leave) in any one month during the subsidy period should not be less than the total number of paid and unpaid employees in March 2020 (i.e. the “committed headcount of paid employees”); and
  2. to spend all the wage subsidies of ESS for a particular month on paying wages to the employees for the same month during the subsidy period.

Applicants of the second tranche of wage subsidy (including employers who have applied for the first tranche of wage subsidy) are required to undertake not to implement redundancy and to spend all the government wage subsidies on paying wages to their employees during the subsidy period when they fill in the online application form.

To cater for different situations of industries and sectors and to avoid disrupting normal business operation, we have allowed certain flexibility, such as not requiring employers to maintain the original wage level of individual employees, when designing the ESS.

However, it should be noted that employers applying for the second tranche of wage subsidies under the ESS are required to undertake that the number of employees on the payroll (excluding those on no-pay leave) in any one month of the three-month subsidy period (i.e. from September to November 2020) must not be less than the total number of paid and unpaid employees in March 2020 (i.e. the “committed headcount of paid employees”). The employers are also required to spend all the wage subsidies on paying wages to their employees in the same month according to the terms and conditions of the ESS, and are not allowed to use the subsidies for any other purposes.

For an employer who has received the second tranche of wage subsidies, if it fails to spend all the wage subsidies received for a particular month during the three-month subsidy period (i.e. from September to November 2020) to pay the wages of its employees in the same month, the Government will claw back the unspent balance of the subsidy for that month.

Furthermore, if the number of paid employees (excluding those on no-pay leave) in any one month of the subsidy period is less than the “committed headcount of paid employees”, the employer will have to pay a penalty to the Government. (Please refer to Section 7 – “Penalty and Monitoring”).

In addition to the above penalties, the Government reserves the right to claw back the second tranche of wage subsidies disbursed to the employer (in full or in part) if the Secretariat considers that the magnitude of “redundancies made” by the employer in its company/organisation during the subsidy period of the second tranche (i.e. from September to November 2020) was substantial, and the employer fails to prove to the satisfaction of the Secretariat its intention to employ persons to replace those being laid off and/or re-employ those who have been laid off, or there is no reasonable explanations provided for the "redundancies made" by it.

For employers participating in MPF schemes, the ESS Secretariat and/or the appointed processing agent will compare the total number of paid employees as shown in the MPF record certificates for each month during the subsidy period (i.e. from September to November 2020) provided by MPF trustees with the total number of employees as shown in the MPF record certificate of March 2020 (regardless of whether they were paid or not) to verify whether an employer has implemented redundancy.

For employers who have set up ORSO schemes, the ESS Secretariat and/or its appointed processing agent will compare the total number of paid employees as shown on the supporting document(s) of employees’ wages in each month during the subsidy period with the total number of eligible employees (whether paid or unpaid) in March 2020 provided in the application form to verify whether the employer has implemented redundancy.


Employers should note that –

  1. If the MPF record certificate of March 2020/ payroll records of employers who have set up ORSO Scheme(s) for March 2020 shows that an employee had ceased/would cease employment in the month/subsequent months (regardless of whether he was paid or not), the employee will still be counted towards the “committed headcount of paid employees” as a basis for comparing the total number of paid employees during the subsidy period.
  2. In respect of new employees, if an applicant has made MPF contribution/ set up ORSO Scheme(s) for a new employee in March 2020 and such information is shown in the MPF record certificates/ payroll records of employers who have set up ORSO Scheme(s) for the month, the employee concerned will be counted towards the “committed headcount of paid employees” as a basis for comparing the total number of paid employees during the subsidy period (i.e. from September to November 2020). Similarly, if the MPF record certificate in any one month of the subsidy period shows that the applicant has made MPF contributions for new employees, the employees concerned will be counted towards the total number of paid employees in that month. For employers who have set up ORSO Scheme(s), if an applicant has set up ORSO Scheme(s) for and paid any new employees in any one month of the subsidy period and such information is shown on the payroll records of that month, the relevant employees will be counted towards the total number of employees in that month.
  3. For employees aged 65 or above with MPF accounts, employers who have received the ESS subsidies should provide the MPF trustees with information on the wages of employees aged 65 or above in their return of remittance statements for their MPF contributions in the subsidy period (i.e. from September to November 2020), so as to prove that wages have been paid to the relevant employees for the months. Otherwise, the employees concerned will not be counted towards the total number of paid employees in those months.
  4. If the MPF record certificates in March 2020 show that the applicants have not settled the default mandatory contributions (excluding surcharge) of some employees on or before 7 May 2020, those employees will still be counted towards the “committed headcount of paid employees” and taken as the basis for comparing the total number of paid employees in the subsidy period.
  5. If the employer has opened an MPF account and set up an ORSO scheme for the same employee at the same time, or if the employer has set up more than one MPF-exempted ORSO scheme for the same employee, this employee will only be counted as one headcount for the purpose of calculating the “committed headcount of paid employees”.

No. Employers who participate in the second tranche of ESS are only required to undertake not to “implement redundancies” and to spend all the wage subsidies of ESS for a particular month on paying wages to the employees for the same month during the subsidy period (i.e. from September to November 2020). Nonetheless, the ESS Secretariat and processing agent will act on complaint and perform sample checking to ascertain if the employees aged 65 or above as shown on employers’ MPF record certificates provided by MPF trustees are actually employed by the applicant. Employers are reminded to provide information on the wages of employees aged 65 or above for the months of September to November 2020 to their MPF trustees for auditing purpose.



4. Calculation of Subsidy

A. Calculation of wage subsidies for the “specified month”

Generally speaking, employers who have participated in Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) schemes can apply for wage subsidies in respect of employees in the following categories:

  1. “regular employees”1 under the Master Trust Schemes and Industry Schemes, for whom MPF mandatory contributions have been made by their employers; and
  2. employees aged 65 or above under the Master Trust Schemes and Industry Schemes.

It should be noted that employers cannot apply for wage subsidies in respect of “casual employees”2 under the Master Trust Schemes and Industry Schemes.

Employers who have set up MPF-exempted Occupational Retirement Schemes Ordinance (ORSO) schemes (including ORSO registered schemes or ORSO exempted schemes) can apply for wage subsidies in respect of employees who are members of their ORSO schemes. It should be noted that employers can only apply for employees who are Hong Kong Identity Card holders.

Moreover, employers will be notified by relevant departments in writing that they cannot apply for wage subsidies in respect of the following types of employees as their wages are fully subsidised by the Government:

  1. employees in government-funded organisations whose wages are fully funded by the Government; and
  2. dedicated employees engaged by government outsourced service contractors/consultants to implement or deliver these contracts.

Employers can still apply for wage subsidies for their employees whose wages are not fully funded by the Government (Please refer to Part 2 - “Eligibility”). Regarding the application to the second tranche of wage subsidies, the Employment Support Scheme (ESS) Secretariat has, through the government departments concerned, notified the relevant organisations about the above eligibility.

It should be noted that employers who have applied for the Catering Business (Social Distancing) Subsidy Scheme in respect of the employees in the licensed premises (including applications being processed or approved) cannot apply for ESS wage subsidies in respect of the same employees. In addition, green minibus and local ferry operators who have applied for ESS wage subsidies in respect of their employees aged 65 or above are not allowed to apply, in respect of the same employees, for subsidies under the subsidy scheme of the Transport Department specifically designed for green minibus and local ferry operators hiring employees aged 65 or above.



  • 1 The term “regular employees” refers to employees who are at least 18 but under 65 years of age and have been employed in any industry for a continuous period of 60 days or more. (Reference: http://www.mpfa.org.hk/eng/main/glossary/index.jsp)
  • 2 The term “casual employees” refers to employees who are at least 18 but under 65 years of age, and are employed in the construction industry or the catering industry on a day-to-day basis or for a fixed period of less than 60 days. (Reference: http://www.mpfa.org.hk/eng/main/glossary/index.jsp)

Employers applying for the second tranche of wage subsidies can choose any one month from December 2019 to March 2020 as the “specified month”. Employers who have received wage subsidies in the first tranche of ESS may choose another month as the “specified month” when applying for the second tranche of wage subsidies. The ESS processing agent will calculate the amount of wage subsidies on the basis of the number of employees and their Relevant IncomeNote or wages in the “specified month” as shown on the MPF record certificates of the applicants provided by the MPF trustees:

“Regular employees” aged between 18 and 64

  • The amount of wage subsidies will be calculated based on 50% of the actual wages paid to each “regular employee” aged 18-64 in the “specified month”, with a wage cap at $18,000 per month. The maximum wage subsidy per employee is $9,000 per month.
  • It should be noted that employees on no-pay leave and those whose default mandatory contributions (excluding surcharge) in the “specified month” have not been settled on or before 7 May 2020 will not be taken into account when calculating the wage subsidies.

Employees aged 65 or above who have MPF accounts

  • Employers can apply for wage subsidies in respect of employees aged 65 or above who have MPF accounts, even though the employers have not made MPF voluntary contributions for the employees concerned. The subsidies are calculated as follows:
    • If information on the wages of employees aged 65 and above is shown on the employer's MPF record certificate, the amount of wage subsidies will be calculated based on 50% of the wages actually paid to the relevant employees in the “specified month”, with a wage cap at $18,000 per month per employee. The maximum wage subsidy per employee is $9,000 per month.
    • If information on the voluntary MPF contribution for employees aged 65 and above (but not their wages) is shown on the employer's MPF record certificate, the amount of wage subsidies will be calculated by multiplying the amount of employers’ voluntary contributions for the relevant employees in the “specified month” by 10 times, with a cap at $9,000 per month per employee.
    • If information on the employment of employees aged 65 or above (but not their wages nor MPF contributions made for them by the employer) is shown on the employer’s MPF record certificate, the amount of wage subsidies will be calculated based on the number of such employees aged 65 or above engaged in the “specified month”, with a subsidy of $5,000 per employee per month.
    • If the amount of wage subsidy for any of the employees aged 65 or above calculated based wages or voluntary contributions on the employer’s MPF record certificate is below $5,000 per month, the employers may receive a wage subsidy of $5,000 for each of such employee per month.

If an employer has made MPF contributions for both “regular employees” aged 18-64 and employees aged 65 or above with MPF accounts, the employer must choose the same “specified month” for calculating the wage subsidies in respect of all employees.


  • Note: Relevant Income includes wages, allowances, commissions and bonuses, etc., but does not include non-pecuniary benefits, and severance payments and long service payments under the Employment Ordinance (Cap. 57). For details, please refer to the guidelines on Relevant Income issued by the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority.


An illustration on how to calculate the wage subsidy - An employer has made MPF contributions for “regular employees”

Company A has chosen January 2020 as the “specified month”

January 2020 - 20 employees aged 18-64 hired with a total salary of $300,000

Number of Employees Monthly Wage Per Employee Government Subsidy Per Employee
10 $20,000 $9,000
10 $10,000 $5,000

Total monthly wage subsidies :
($9,000 x 10) + ($5,000 x 10)
= $140,000


The second tranche of wage subsidy (i.e. the total subsidy amount for the three months from September to November 2020) : $140,000 x 3 = $420,000



An illustration on how to calculate the wage subsidy - An employer has applied for wage subsidies in respect of employees aged 65 or above with MPF accounts (only their wages are shown)

Company B has chosen December 2019 as the “specified month”

December 2019 - 20 employees aged 65 or above hired

Number of Employees Aged 65 or Above Wages as Shown on the MPF Record Certificate Government Subsidy Per Employee
10 $20,000 $9,000
5 $10,000 $5,000
5 $9,000 $5,000

Total monthly wage subsidies :
($9,000 x 10) + ($5,000 x 5) + ($5,000 x 5)
= $140,000


The second tranche of wage subsidy (i.e. the total subsidy amount for the three months from September to November 2020) : $140,000 x 3 = $420,000



An illustration on how to calculate the wage subsidy - An employer has applied for wage subsidies in respect of employees aged 65 or above with MPF accounts (only the amount of voluntary MPF contributions made for them is shown)

Company C has chosen February 2020 as the “specified month”

February 2020 - 15 employees aged 65 or above hired

Number of Employees Aged 65 or Above Amount of Voluntary MPF Contributions as Shown on the MPF Record Certificate Government Subsidy Per Employee
5 $500 $5,000
5 $1,000 $9,000
5 $400 $5,000

Total monthly wage subsidies :
($5,000 x 5) + ($9,000 x 5) + ($5,000 x 5)
= $95,000


The second tranche of wage subsidy (i.e. the total subsidy amount for the three months from September to November 2020) : $95,000 x 3 = $285,000



An illustration on how to calculate the wage subsidy - An employer has applied for wage subsidies in respect of employees aged 65 or above with MPF accounts (information on their wages or the amount of voluntary MPF contributions made for them is not shown)

Company D has chosen February 2020 as the “specified month”

February 2020 - 10 employees aged 65 or above hired

The MPF Record Certificate Only Shows the Number of Employees Aged 65 or Above Note Government Subsidy Per Employee
10 $5,000


  • Note: The MPF record certificate does not show the wages of these 10 employees or the amount of voluntary MPF contributions made for them.

Total monthly wage subsidies: $5,000 x 10 = $50,000

The second tranche of wage subsidy (i.e. the total subsidy amount for the three months from September to November 2020) : $50,000 x 3 = $150,000

Employers applying for the second tranche of wage subsidy can choose any one month between December 2019 and March 2020 as the “specified month”. The amount of wage subsidies will be calculated based on 50% of the actual wages paid to each employee in the “specified month”, with a wage cap at $18,000 per month. The maximum wage subsidy per employee is $9,000 per month. The employers who have received the first tranche of wage subsidy can choose another month as the “specified month” at the time of making application for the second tranche of wage subsidy.


An illustration on how to calculate the wage subsidy - An employer has only made ORSO contributions for employees

Company E has chosen January 2020 as the “specified month”

January 2020 - 10 employees hired with a total salary of $200,000

Number of Employees Monthly Wage Per Employee Government Subsidy Per Employee
5 $30,000 $9,000
5 $10,000 $5,000

Total monthly wage subsidies :
($9,000 x 5) + ($5,000 x 5)
= $70,000


The second tranche of wage subsidy (i.e. the total subsidy amount for the three months from September to November 2020) :
$70,000 x 3
= $210,000

The employer may first divide employees into two groups, namely (i) the employees participating in the MPF schemes and (ii) the employees participating in the ORSO schemes, and calculate the respective amount of subsidy according to the methods as mentioned in Q&A 4.2 and Q&A 4.3 respectively. The total amount of subsidies to be received by the employer is the aggregate of the two amounts.


An illustration on how to calculate the wage subsidy - An employer has made MPF or ORSO contributions for different employees

Company F has chosen January 2020 as the “specified month”

January 2020 - 30 employees hired, of which 20 employees participated in the MPF schemes with a total salary of $300,000; another 10 employees participated in the ORSO schemes with a total salary of $200,000

(a) Amount of subsidy for employees participating in the MPF schemes:

Number of Employees Monthly Wage Per Employee Government Subsidy Per Employee
10 $20,000 $9,000
10 $10,000 $5,000

Total monthly wage subsidies :
($9,000 x 10) + ($5,000 x 10)
= $140,000


(b) Amount of subsidy for employees participating in the ORSO schemes:

Number of Employees Monthly Wage Per Employee Government Subsidy Per Employee
5 $30,000 $9,000
5 $10,000 $5,000

Total monthly wage subsidies :
($9,000 x 5) + ($5,000 x 5)
= $70,000

The second tranche of wage subsidy (i.e. the total subsidy amount for the three months from September to November 2020) :
($140,000 x 3) + ($70,000 x 3)
= $630,000

Before approving the second tranche of wage subsidies, the ESS processing agent will request the MPF trustees to provide the monthly MPF record certificates of employers for June and July 2020 (i.e. the first two months of the first subsidy period), in order to ascertain whether the employers had used all the wage subsidies to pay the wages of the employees during the subsidy period by checking against the actual wages and the total number of paid employees indicated in the certificates, and to ascertain whether the total number of paid employees in that month is not less than the “committed headcount of paid employees” (i.e. the total number of paid and unpaid employees in March 2020). For employers with employees whose wages are fully funded by the Government and have received notification letters from the relevant government departments, the applicants should fill in the actual wages and the MPF contributions of each eligible employee for June and July 2020 in the “designated form” for submission when applying for the second tranche of subsidies for consideration by the ESS processing agent together with the MPF record certificates.

For employers who have set up ORSO schemes, they should also fill in the actual wages for eligible employees for June and July 2020 in the “designated form” for submission when applying for the second tranche of subsidies. (In respect of employers with employees whose wages are fully funded by the Government and have received notification letters from the relevant government departments, eligible employees are those whose wages are not fully funded by the Government.) The ESS processing agent will take into account the above information to verify whether the employers had used all the wage subsidies to pay the wages of the employees during the subsidy period and whether the total number of paid employees in that month is not less than the “committed headcount of paid employees” (i.e. the total number of paid and unpaid employees in March 2020).

For employers who are in breach of their undertakings during the first subsidy period (i.e. failure to use all the wage subsidies received for a particular month to pay the wages of the employees in the same month and/or total number of paid employees in any one month of the subsidy period is less than the “committed headcount of paid employees”), they have to return the unspent balance of the subsidy and/or pay a penalty to the Government. If the employers’ applications for the second tranche of subsidies are approved, the Government will deduct the relevant amount directly from the subsidies of the second tranche to be granted to them. (Please refer to Section 7 – “Penalty and Monitoring”).

In addition, as the MPF contributions for August 2020 (i.e. the third month of the first subsidy period) will be due on 10 September 2020, the MPF trustees cannot provide the MPF record certificates for that month to the ESS processing agent before the approval of the second tranche of wage subsidies for ascertaining whether the employers are in breach of their undertakings. Therefore, the Secretariat/ESS processing agent will seek to retrieve the subsidy amount that should be returned to the Government and/or collect a penalty from the employers concerned separately after disbursing the second tranche of wage subsidies.


An illustration on the claw back of the first tranche of wage subsidies and/or penalty - An employer has to pay the claw back and penalty to the Government due to the breach of their undertakings in June and July 2020

Company A has chosen January 2020 as the “specified month”

January 2020 - 20 employees hired with a total salary of $300,000

Number of Employees Monthly Wage Per Employee Government Subsidy Per Employee
10 $20,000 $9,000
10 $10,000 $5,000

(a) Wage subsidies of the second tranche to be received by Company A -

Total monthly wage subsidies :
($9,000 x 10) + ($5,000 x 10)
= $140,000


Wage subsidies of the second tranche: $140,000 x 3 = $420,000 (i.e. the total amount of subsidies for three months from September to November 2020)



(b) Claw back and penalty to be paid by Company A to the Government for the first tranche of wage subsidies -

Assuming that the total number of employees in March 2020 (i.e. “committed headcount of paid employees”): 20
Applicable penalty percentage (10-49 employees): 20%
The employer receives $140,000 of wage subsidies per month during the first tranche (i.e. from June to August 2020)


The number of paid employees and the total payroll expenses per month in June and July 2020 (i.e. the first two months of the subsidy period under the first tranche) are as follows:

 No content Number of paid employees Total payroll expenses Subsidies to be clawed back by the Government Penalty to be paid due to staff redundancy
June 2020 16(Assuming that 4 employees with monthly salary of $20,000 were made redundant) $220,000 $0 $140,000 x 20% x 20% = $5,600
July 2020 20 $120,000 $140,000 - $120,000 = $20,000 $0

Penalty to be paid due to staff redundancy: The number of paid employees was 16 in June 2020, which was 4 less than the “committed headcount of paid employees” (20) in March 2020, representing a decrease of 20% (4 ÷ 20 x 100%).

Penalty to be paid by the employer for June = $140,000 (subsidies) x 20% (headcount reduction percentage) x 20% (penalty percentage to be applied to the employer) = $5,600.


Subsidies to be clawed back by the Government: As the total payroll expenses ($120,000) in July 2020 were less than the monthly wage subsidies ($140,000), the Government will claw back the unspent balance of the subsidy ($20,000) for that month.


The total amount of penalty and claw back for the employer in June and July 2020 (i.e. the first two months of the first tranche of subsidy) = $5,600 + $20,000 = $25,600

Therefore, the actual amount of subsidy to be received by Company A under the second tranche will be :
($420,000 - $25,600) = $394,400 (i.e. the difference between (a) and (b) above)

When employers submit applications for the second tranche of wage subsidies, they have to choose a “specified month” within the period from December 2019 to March 2020 for the purpose of calculating the wage subsidies. The amount of subsidies to be received in the second tranche will be determined by the number of employees and their actual wages in the “specified month”. Employers who have received the first tranche of wage subsidies may choose another month as the “specified month” when applying for the second tranche of wage subsidies.

Besides, employers participating in MPF schemes are required to authorise the ESS processing agent to act as their agent to receive the certificates on the relevant MPF records (including the number of employees and their wages) issued by MPF trustees, as well as to authorise the MPF trustees to provide the ESS processing agent (as employers' agent) with MPF record certificates to verify the information related to their MPF contributions. With the applicants’ authorisation, the MPF trustees will forward the applicants’ MPF record certificates in electronic format to the ESS processing agent directly for calculating the amount of wage subsidies. For employers with employees whose wages are fully funded by the Government and have received notification letters from the relevant government departments, the employers concerned should fill in the Relevant Income or wages, and the MPF contributions for eligible employees (i.e. employees whose wages are not fully funded by the Government) during the “specified month” in the "designated form" for the calculation of subsidy amount.

As for employers under ORSO schemes, the amount of wages subsidies would be calculated based on the actual wages paid to the employees during the “specified month”. If the employer has set up more than one OSRO scheme for the same employee, he/she will have to submit this employee’s actual wage under one of the ORSO schemes only for the calculation of subsidy amount.

A snapshot of individual employer’s MPF contribution data for December 2019 to March 2020 was taken on 7 May 2020, which will be used for calculating wage subsidies. No changes to the relevant MPF contribution data will be allowed, including settlement of default mandatory contributions for employees, for the purpose of applying for ESS subsidies.

In other words, employers may only apply for wage subsidies in respect of employees for whom default mandatory contributions (excluding surcharge) have been settled on or before 7 May 2020.

  1. For employers making contributions on a monthly basis

    The amount of subsidy will be calculated on the basis of 50% of the Relevant Income as shown in the employer’s MPF contribution record for the “specified month”, with the maximum subsidy per employee per month at $9,000. The relevant month of the contribution record will be determined according to the end day of the contribution period. For example, if the contribution period start date on the contribution record is 15 December and the end date is 14 January, it will be considered as the contribution record of January.


    Example 1: Monthly contribution (Beginning to end of the month)

    Individual employee’s Relevant Income $10,000
    Contribution period start date 2020/01/01
    Contribution period end date 2020/01/31
    “Specified month” January 2020
    Subsidy amount $10,000 x 50%
    = $5,000

    Example 2: Monthly contribution (Middle of current month to middle of next month)

    Individual employee’s Relevant Income $10,000
    Contribution period start date 2020/01/16
    Contribution period end date 2020/02/15
    “Specified month” February 2020
    Subsidy amount $10,000 x 50%
    = $5,000

  2. For employers making contribution more than once every month (e.g. weekly or bi-weekly contributions)

    In accordance with the Relevant Income as shown in the employer’s MPF contribution record of the “specified month”, to calculate 50% of the Relevant Income of the “specified month” according to the proportion of days, with the maximum subsidy per employee per month at $9,000.


    Example 3: Weekly contribution

    Individual employee’s Relevant Income $2,500 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500
    Contribution period start date 2020/02/26 2020/03/04 2020/03/11 2020/03/18 2020/03/25
    Contribution period end date 2020/03/03 2020/03/10 2020/03/17 2020/03/24 2020/03/31
    “Specified month” March 2020 March 2020 March 2020 March 2020 March 2020
    Number of days fall within the “specified month” 3 days 7 days 7 days 7 days 7 days
    Subsidy amount [($2,500 x 3/7) + $2,500 + $2,500 + $2,500 + $2,500] x 50%
    = $11,071 x 50%
    = $5,536

    Note: The above example shows that the “specified month” chosen by the employer covers days beyond that month (i.e. 26 February to 29 February), as such it is necessary to prorate the Relevant Income based on the number of days falling within that month.

  3. For employers making contributions less than once every month(e.g. bi-monthly/quarterly/annually)

    In accordance with the Relevant Income as shown in the employer’s MPF contribution record of the “specified month”, to calculate 50% of the Relevant Income of the “specified month” according to the proportion of days, with the maximum subsidy per employee per month at $9,000.

    A) If the contribution period end date falls within the “specified month”, the contribution record will be adopted for calculating the subsidy of the “specified month” according to the proportion of days.


    Example 4: Quarterly contributions

    Individual employee’s Relevant Income $30,000
    Contribution period start date 2019/11/16
    Contribution period end date 2020/02/15
    “Specified month” February 2020
    Number of days covered in the contribution period 92
    Subsidy amount $30,000/92 x 29 x 50%
    = $4,728

    Note: The above example covers a contribution period of 92 days (from 16 November 2019 to 15 February 2020), as such the subsidy amount for the “specified month” (February 2020) should be prorated based on the number of days falling within that month.

    B)If the “specified month” is within any one month of the contribution period, the contribution record will be adopted for calculating the subsidy of the “specified month” according to the proportion of days.


    Example 5: Yearly contributions

    Individual employee’s Relevant Income $120,000
    Contribution period start date 2019/03/16
    Contribution period end date 2020/03/15
    “Specified month” February 2020
    Number of days covered in the contribution period 366
    Subsidy amount $120,000/366 x 29 x 50%
    = $4,754

    Note:The above example shows a contribution period of 366 days (from 16 March 2019 to 15 March 2020), as such the subsidy for the “specified month” (February 2020) will be prorated based on the number of days falling within that month.

The principle of the ESS is easy to understand, to apply for and quick in disbursement. We hope that the above illustrative examples have covered the MPF contribution situation of a majority of eligible employers. That said, if the above examples do not cover your situation, please approach us by sending an e-mail to enquiry@employmentsupport.hk.

No. The wage subsidies to be received by employers for September to November 2020 under the second tranche must be used to pay the wages of the employees for September, October and November 2020 correspondingly, meaning that the employer’s expenditure on wages for September, October and November 2020 must not be lower than the amount of subsidies for that particular month.

There is no upper limit on the total amount of subsidies that each employer can receive. However, only a maximum subsidy of $9,000 can be received for each employee per month according to the specified calculation method of subsidies.

Eligible employers participating in the second tranche of ESS must provide an undertaking not to implement “redundancy” during the subsidy period (i.e. the number of paid employees in each month during the subsidy period must not be smaller than the “committed headcount of paid employees” (i.e. the total number of paid and unpaid employees as shown on the MPF record certificates in March 2020)) and to spend all the Government wage subsidies on paying wages to their employees.

If the employer has set up more than one MPF-exempted ORSO scheme for the same employee, he/she will have to submit this employee’s actual wage under one of the ORSO schemes only for the calculation of subsidies.

If the employer has opened an MPF account and an ORSO account for the same employee at the same time, only the Relevant Income of this employee's MPF account will be taken into account for the calculation of subsidies. This employee will only be counted as one headcount for the purpose of calculating the “committed headcount of paid employees”.


B. Calculation of the number of employees in the “specified month”

Wage subsidies are calculated based on the number of employees and their Relevant Income or wages as shown on the MPF record certificates of the “specified month”. As the employer has not made any MPF contributions for that new employee, whose information is not included in the MPF record certificates, that employee is thus not eligible for wage subsidy.

As long as the employers have made MPF contributions for these employees in the “specified month”, they will be counted towards the number of employees in the “specified month” in applying for subsidies, regardless of the work locations of these employees.

As for employers who have set up ORSO schemes for his/her employees, only those Hong Kong Identity Card holders may be counted towards the number of employees in the “specified month” in applying for subsidies.


C. Staff changes during the “specified month”

Employers participating in MPF schemes
The wage subsidies are calculated based on the number of employees and their Relevant Income or wages as shown on the MPF record certificates of the “specified month”. Notwithstanding that the employee has resigned, given that he/she remained on the payroll of the “specified month”, and the employer has made MPF contributions; the record of contributions and the Relevant Income are therefore set out in the certificate, and the employer can apply for subsidies in respect of the employee, but all the subsidies received must be spent on paying wages to employees in full.

Employers who have set up ORSO schemes
The wage subsidies are calculated based on the number of employees and their actual wages in the “specified month”. If the employer has set up an ORSO scheme and provides the record of wages payment for an employee in that “specified month”, the employer may still apply for the subsidy for that employee even if he/she has resigned, but all the subsidies received must be spent on paying wages to employees in full.

Employers participating in MPF schemes
In respect of new employees, if an employer has not yet made any MPF contributions for a new employee, and no data of the relevant employee is shown in the MPF record certificate, the employee will not be eligible for wage subsidies.

Employers who have set up ORSO Schemes
The amount of subsidies for new employees will be calculated based on the actual wages paid by the employers in the “specified month”. However, such employees should have become members of the relevant ORSO schemes on or before 31 March 2020 (i.e. without retrospective effect).

Employers participating in MPF schemes
Employers may apply for wage subsidies in respect of employees aged 65 or above with MPF accounts, even if employers have not made any voluntary contributions for such employees. The method to calculate the wage subsidies is as follows:

  1. If information on the wages of employees aged 65 or above is shown on the employer’s MPF record certificate, the amount of wage subsidies will be calculated based on 50% of the wages actually paid to the relevant employees in the “specified month”, with a wage cap at $18,000 per month per employee. The maximum wage subsidy per employee is $9,000 per month.
  2. If information on the voluntary MPF contribution for employees aged 65 or above (but not their wages) is shown on the employer’s MPF record certificate, the amount of wage subsidies will be calculated by multiplying the amount of employers’ voluntary contributions for the relevant employees in the “specified month” by 10 times, with a cap at $9,000 per month per employee.
  3. If information on the employment of employees aged 65 or above (but not their wages nor MPF contributions made for them by the employers) is shown on the employer’s MPF record certificate, the amount of wage subsidies will be calculated based on the number of such employees aged 65 or above employed in the “specified month”, with a subsidy of $5,000 per month per employee.
  4. If the amount of wage subsidy for any of the employees aged 65 or above calculated based on (a) or (b) above is below $5,000 per month, the employers may receive a wage subsidy of $5,000 for each of such employees per month.

Employers who have set up ORSO Schemes
The wage subsidies for those employees aged 65 or above will be calculated based on their actual wages paid in the “specified month”.


D. Change of employees’ wages in the “specified month”

Employers may choose any one month from December 2019 to March 2020 as the “specified month”. The subsidies will be calculated based on the number of employees (but excluding employees on no-pay leave and also excluding employees whose default mandatory contributions (excluding surcharge) in the “specified month” have not been settled on or before 7 May 2020) and their wages actually paid by the employer in the “specified month”.

After the application has been approved, the number of paid employees (excluding employees on no-pay leave) in any one month of the subsidy period from September to November 2020 cannot be less than the “committed headcount of paid employees” (i.e. the total number of paid and unpaid employees in March 2020). In addition, the employer should spend all the wage subsidies received under the second tranche on paying wages to their employees in September, October and November 2020 correspondingly (i.e. the employer’s expenditure on wages for September, October and November 2020 must not be lower than the amount of subsidies for that particular month). This arrangement can encourage employers to pay salaries to their employees who are on no-pay leave.

Employers participating in MPF schemes
Regardless of whether the salary level of an employee is higher (e.g. double payment / contract gratuity) or lower (e.g. underemployment / sick leave, etc.) than usual, the subsidy will be calculated based on the actual Relevant Income or wages of the employee in the “specified month” as set out in MPF record certificate.

Employers who have set up ORSO schemes
Regardless of whether the salary level of an employee is higher (e.g. double payment/contract gratuity) or lower (e.g. underemployment/sick leave, etc.) than usual, the subsidy will be calculated based on the actual wage of the employee in that month.

No. The amount of wage subsidies is calculated based on the number of employees and the Relevant Income or wages in the “specified month” as set out in the MPF record certificates. It will not be affected by any changes in the employee’s wages made beyond the “specified month”.


E. Scope of wages of employees in the “specified month”

Employers participating in MPF schemes
Other than employees aged 65 or above (please refer to Q&A 4.17), “wages” refer to Relevant Income of the “specified month” (including salaries, allowances, commissions and bonuses, etc., but excluding non-pecuniary benefits and severance payments or long service payments under the Employment Ordinance (Chapter 57, Laws of Hong Kong)), or otherwise referred to as actual salaries.

Employers who have set up ORSO schemes
“Wages” refer to actual wages paid in the “specified month”, which may include any wages, salaries, leave pay, fees, commissions, bonuses, gratuities, perquisites or allowances, but excludes severance payments and long service payments.

Employers participating in MPF schemes
Other than employees aged 65 or above (please refer to Q&A 4.17), the Relevant Income set out in MPF record certificates will serve as the basis for calculating the amount of subsidy. If the Relevant Income in the “specified month” chosen by the employer covers various incomes in addition to basic salaries, such incomes can also be taken into account for calculating the subsidies.

Employers who have set up ORSO schemes
The amount of subsidy is based on the actual wages paid by the employer. The actual wages may include basic wages, salaries, commissions, bonuses or allowances. Backpay in the “specified month” chosen by the employer can also be taken into account.

Employers participating in MPF schemes
Other than employees aged 65 or above (please refer to Q&A 4.17), the amount of subsidies will be determined based on the Relevant Income set out in MPF record certificates. If the Relevant Income in the “specified month” chosen by the employer covers any backpay, it can also be taken into account for calculating the subsidies.

Employers who have set up ORSO schemes
The amount of subsidies is based on the actual wage paid by the employer. The actual wages may include wages, salaries, commissions, bonuses or allowances. Backpay in the “specified month” chosen by the employer can also be taken into account.

Employers participating in MPF schemes
Regardless of whether the employees work full-time or part-time, and whether or not the salary level is fixed, if these employees are “regular employees” under the MPF Master Trust Schemes and Industry Schemes, for whom their employers have made mandatory contributions, or if they are employees aged 65 or above with MPF accounts under the Master Trust Schemes and Industry Schemes, their employers may apply for subsidies in respect of these employees.

The subsidies will be determined based on the Relevant Income/ wages as shown in the MPF record certificates. If the Relevant Income/ wages in the “specified month” chosen by the employer covers various incomes in addition to basic salaries, such incomes can also be taken into account for calculating the subsidies.

Employers who have set up ORSO Schemes
For employees whose employers have set up ORSO schemes for them and they have become members of the relevant ORSO schemes on or before 31 March 2020 (i.e. with no retrospective effect), their employers may apply for subsidies in respect of these employees no matter whether they are full-time or part-time employees.

Employers participating in MPF schemes
The amount of subsidy is calculated based on the actual Relevant Income/ wages of employees in the “specified month” as set out in the MPF record certificates, irrespective of the pay mechanism of employees (such as payment on hourly/daily/weekly/monthly/quarterly basis, or on piece rate or on completion of an entire project).

Employers who have set up ORSO Schemes
The amount of subsidy is calculated based on the actual wages paid by employers. The actual wages may include wages, salaries, commissions, bonuses or allowances, irrespective of the basis of payment.



5. Application Procedures

Employers must submit their ESS applications under the registered company name of the MPF/ORSO scheme accounts opened for their employees, and provide relevant information (e.g. name of the company/corporation/organisation, Business Registration Number, registration number under the Societies Ordinance or the Education Ordinance, non-governmental organisation code assigned by the Social Welfare Department, MPF account/ORSO registration/exemption number, etc.) in the online application form.

Each employer (company/corporation/organisation/natural person) should submit an independent application by including all of the MPF accounts and/or ORSO schemes in the same application. If the subsidiary companies/branches of an entity have set up different MPF accounts and/or ORSO schemes for their employees, each subsidiary company/branch should submit an individual application. On the other hand, if a holding company has enrolled the employees in its subsidiary companies/branches into the same MPF account or set up the same ORSO scheme, the holding company should submit one application only.

Since each employer is regarded as an independent applicant under ESS, the requirements to provide undertakings, calculation of the amount of subsidy, the monitoring and penalty arrangements will apply to individual employers.

All MPF/ORSO schemes under the same employer must choose the same “specified month” for the calculation of subsidies.

An employer who has set up MPF accounts and ORSO Schemes for its employees at the same time only needs to submit one ESS application. The employer should include the required information of all of its MPF accounts and ORSO schemes in the same application.

The applicant should send an email to enquiry@employmentsupport.hk from the registered email address submitted in the application form in the first tranche of ESS to explain the employer’s situation as early as possible within the application period setting out the name, the employer’s MPF Registration/Participation Number or ORSO Registration/Exemption Number before and after re-structuring or spin-off of the organisation in the email with the relevant supporting documents.

Employers are required to provide information on actual wages of relevant employees in their applications. Wages may include wages, salaries, leave pay, fees, commissions, bonuses, gratuities, perquisites or allowances, but excludes severance payments and long service payments under the Employment Ordinance (Chapter 57, Laws of Hong Kong).

Employers participating in MPF schemes should provide the following information in the online application form –

  • Name and address of the applicant (company/corporation/organisation/natural person)
  • Business Registration Number or other registration numbers (e.g. company registration number, registration number under the Societies Ordinance or the Education Ordinance, non-governmental organisation code assigned by the Social Welfare Department, etc.) (the name of applicant must be the same as the name of business/corporation stated in relevant registration certificates, except natural persons)
  • Name of all MPF trustees, MPF Schemes and Scheme Registration/Participation Numbers of the applicant participated on or after 1 December 2019 (the name of applicant must be the same as the name shown on the records of the MPF trustee)
  • “Specified month” for the calculation of wage subsidies
  • Information of the Hong Kong bank account for receiving wage subsidies (including name of bank, name of the bank account holder and bank account number) (the applicant’s name must be the same as that of the bank account holder)
  • Name, e-mail address and mobile phone number of the representative authorised by the applicant for submitting the application

Moreover, the following supporting documents should also be uploaded or submitted via other specified means when completing the application –

  • Scanned copies of the applicant’s the bank account number for receiving wage subsidies and bank statement(s)
  • Scanned copies of any documents issued by the MPF trustees (e.g. MPF member benefit statement) which show all the MPF schemes participated by the applicant from 1 December 2019 to 31 March 2020. The documents must clearly indicate the name(s) of the MPF trustee(s), names of the MPF scheme(s), and scheme registration/participation number(s) of the employer. If the applicant has changed its MPF trustee, and/or MPF scheme, registration/participation number on or after 1 April 2020, the applicant should complete the relevant details in the appropriate section of the online application form, and upload the relevant MPF supporting documents.
  • Scanned copies of the Business Registration Certificate(s) or the document(s) of the registration of other organisation(s)
  • (Only applicable to employers with some but not all employees fully funded by the Government and have received notification letters from the relevant government departments) Employers cannot apply for wage subsidies in respect of employees whose salaries are fully funded by the Government. Employers must use the “designated form” to fill in the information of each eligible employees (i.e. employees whose wages are not fully funded by the Government), including the number of eligible employees in March 2020 as well as the actual wages of and MPF contributions made to each eligible employee in the “specified month”. After submitting their applications, employers will receive the “designated form” by email within 5 working days from the ESS processing agent and they must upload the completed “designated form” to the Employment Support Scheme Application Service Portal within 5 working days .

To streamline administrative procedures and to avoid possible delays and omissions when submitting information, employers participating in MPF schemes are required to authorise the following parties when submitting their online applications (www.ess.gov.hk):

  • MPF trustees to provide the ESS processing agent (appointed by the Government to serve as employers’ agent) with the certificates on the relevant MPF records (including the number of employees and their wages) to verify the information related to their MPF contributions; and
  • the ESS processing agent (appointed by the Government to serve as employers’ agent) to receive the certificates on the relevant MPF records issued by MPF trustees and to use the relevant information in the MPF record certificates to calculate subsidies and vet, assess and review applications, as well as to monitor and handle disputes and follow-up matters related to ESS subsidies, and for statistical purposes.

With the applicants’ authorisation, the MPF trustees will forward the MPF record certificates of the applicants in electronic format to the ESS processing agent directly. Applicants may also request their MPF trustees to provide copy of such certificates for reference.

Please note that any omission of information may cause delay in vetting the applications.

Employers who have set up MPF-exempted ORSO schemes should provide the following information in the online application form –

  • Name and address of applicant (company/corporation/organisation/natural person)
  • Business Registration Number or other registration numbers (for example, company registration number, registration number under the Societies Ordinance or the Education Ordinance, non-governmental organisation code assigned by the Social Welfare Department, etc.) (The name of applicant must be the same as the name of business/corporation stated in therelevant registration certificates, except natural persons)
  • Name of the MPF-exempted ORSO Scheme, its MPF Exemption Number and ORSO Registration / Exemption Number
  • “Specified month” for the calculation of wage subsidies
  • Number of eligible employees in March 2020 (For employers with employees whose wages are fully funded by the Government and have received notification letters from the relevant government departments, eligible employees are those whose wages are not fully funded by the Government.)
  • Information of the Hong Kong bank account for receiving wage subsidies (including name of bank, name of the bank account holder and the bank account number) (the applicant’s name must be the same as that of the bank account holder)
  • The name, email address and mobile phone number of applicant’s authorised representative

Moreover, the following supporting documents should also be uploaded or submitted via other specified means when completing the application form –

  • Scanned copies of the exemption certificate(s) issued by the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority in accordance with section 5 of the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Ordinance
  • “Designated form” in the application form to fill in the information of eligible employees, including the actual wages of each eligible employee paid by the employer in the “specified month”. (For employers with employees whose wages are fully funded by the Government and have received notification letters from the relevant government departments, eligible employees are those whose wages are not fully funded by the Government.)
  • Scanned copies of Business Registration Certificate(s) or the document(s) of the registration of other organisation(s)
  • Scanned copies of the applicant’s bank account number for receiving wage subsidies and bank statement(s)

Please note that any omission of information may cause delay in vetting the applications.

Yes. For details, please refer to Q&A 5.9 and 5.10

The application number and password that applicants received when applying for subsidies in the first tranche of ESS are also applicable to the second tranche application. Applicants can type in the application number, password and telephone number of the contact person for the first tranche to logon to the application webpage to submit applications for the second tranche. The application webpage will automatically display information submitted for the first tranche of application. Applicants should check if all the information therein is correct.

Regarding “specified month”, applicants who have already received wage subsidies in the first tranche can choose a different “specified month” when applying for wage subsidies in the second tranche. If applicants choose the same “specified month” as that of the first tranche in their application for the second tranche of subsidies, they do not need to input the MPF scheme related information or upload the documents again. If necessary, applicants are allowed to change some of the relevant information (e.g. adding MPF Scheme Registration/ Participation Number, e-mail address or mobile phone number) in the online application form. For details, please refer to the application website and online application form.

If applicants choose a “specified month” different from that in the first tranche when applying for the second tranche of subsidies, they should follow the instructions in the online application form to upload documents or update the information (e.g. providing additional MPF account information) where necessary.

Please note that, generally speaking, no amendment to the information, including the “specified month” chosen, on the application form will be accepted after the confirmed completion and submission of the online application.

Applicants applying for the second tranche of wage subsidies are not allowed to change their bank account information in the online application form for receiving subsidies. If applicants need to amend the bank account information due to special circumstances, they should logon to the Employment Support Scheme Application Service Portal according to the instructions in the online application form, after successfully submitting the application form of the second tranche of ESS, and upload the relevant bank statement or other related supporting documents for verification and follow up.

(Only applicable to employers with some but not all employees fully funded by the Government and have received notification letters from the relevant government departments) If employers decide to choose the same “specified month” as in the first tranche, they do not need to input information on eligible employees (i.e. employees whose wages are not fully funded by the Government) in the “specified month” again. If applicants choose a different “specified month” for the second tranche, they are required to input and upload information of eligible employees in the “designated form”, including the actual wages of and MPF contributions made to each eligible employee in the new “specified month”. In addition, employers (whether there is a change of the “specified month” or not) are required to input the actual wages of eligible employees in June and July 2020 in the “designated form” when applying for the second tranche of subsidies. Information on the actual wages of eligible employees in August 2020 should also be submitted on the Employment Support Scheme Application Service Portal on or before 30 September 2020 to the Secretariat and/or ESS processing agent to verify if the applicants are in breach of their undertakings.

Applications will be processed only upon completion of the online application procedures.

The application number and password that applicants received when applying for subsidies in the first tranche of ESS are also applicable to the second tranche application. Applicants can type in the application number, password and telephone number of the contact person for the first tranche to logon to the application webpage (www.ess.gov.hk) to submit application for the second tranche. The application webpage will automatically display information submitted for the first tranche of application. Applicants should check if all the information therein is correct.

Regarding “specified month”, applicants who have already received wage subsidies in the first tranche can choose a different “specified month” when applying for wage subsidies in the second tranche. If applicants choose the same “specified month” as that of the first tranche in their application for the second tranche of subsidies, they do not need to input or upload the relevant ORSO scheme information or documents again. If necessary, applicants are allowed to change certain information (e.g. additional ORSO Scheme Registration/ Exemption Number, e-mail address or mobile phone number) in the online application form. For details, please refer to the application website and online application form.

If applicants choose a “specified month” different from that in the first tranche when applying for the second tranche of subsidies, they should follow the instructions in the online application form to upload documents or update the information (e.g. providing additional ORSO scheme information) where necessary.

Please note that, generally speaking, no amendment to the information, including the “specified month” chosen, on the application form will be accepted after the confirmed completion and submission of the online application.

Applicants applying for the second tranche of wage subsidies are not allowed to change their bank account information in the online application form for receiving subsidies. If applicants need to amend the bank account information due to special circumstances, they should logon to the Employment Support Scheme Application Service Portal according to the instructions in the online application form, after successfully submitting the application form of the second tranche of ESS, and upload the relevant bank statement or other related supporting documents for verification and follow up.

In addition, employers (whether there is a change of the “specified month” or not) are required to fill in the actual wages of each eligible employee in June and July 2020 in the “designated form” when applying for the second tranche of subsidies. Information on the actual wages of the relevant employees in August 2020 should also be submitted on the Employment Support Scheme Application Service Portal on or before 30 September 2020 to the Secretariat and/or ESS processing agent to verify if the applicants are in breach of their undertakings. For employers with some but not all employees whose wages are fully funded by the Government and have received notification letters from the relevant government departments, eligible employees are those whose wages are not fully funded by the Government.

Applications will be processed only upon completion of the online application procedures.

Please upload the required supporting documents by scanning or taking the front vertical shot of such documents. To speed up the vetting processing, the scanned copies or photos must clearly display the text content.

Please note that supporting documents should be submitted in scanned format if more than one document is to be uploaded.

For the calculation of the wage subsidy amount and confirmation of the “committed headcount of paid employees” (meaning the total number of paid and unpaid employees in March 2020), an employer is required to authorise its MPF trustees, when making online application, to provide the number of employees and the actual wages in the “specified month”, as well as the total number of employees in March 2020 to the ESS processing agent for assessment purpose. Such information does not include the personal data of the employees (e.g. their names and Hong Kong Identity Card numbers).

As for employers who have set up MPF-exempted ORSO schemes, they have to provide the actual wages paid to each eligible employee in the “specified month” and total numbers of eligible employees in March 2020 in the “designated form” contained in the online application form. Employers do not need to include personal information of the employees concerned (e.g. their names and Hong Kong Identity Card numbers).

As for employers with some but not all employees fully funded by the Government and have received notification letters from the relevant government departments, they must use the “designated form” to fill in the information of each eligible employee (i.e. employees whose wages are not fully funded by the Government), including the actual wages of and MPF contributions made to each eligible employee in the “specified month”. After submitting their applications, employers will receive the “designated form” by email from the ESS processing agent within 5 working days and they must upload the completed “designated form” to the Employment Support Scheme Application Service Portal within 5 working days.

No.

Employers participating in MPF schemes
For employers who have opened MPF accounts for employees, the amount of wage subsidies will be calculated based on the information listed in the MPF record certificates. The MPF trustees will provide the certificates to the ESS processing agent after obtaining authorisation from the employers.

Employers who have set up ORSO schemes
Unless employers have received wage subsidies in the first tranche of ESS and choose the same “specified month” as that of the first tranche in their application for the second tranche of subsidies, they have to fill in the actual wages of the eligible employees in the new “specified month” and the total number of employees in March 2020 in the online application form for the calculation of the amount of subsidies and the “committed headcount of paid employees”. (Please refer to Q&A 5.10).

Employers are required to provide information on the actual wages of the employees under the ORSO schemes in applying ESS. Actual wages may include wages, salary, subsidies, allowances, commissions, bonuses, but not severance payments and long service payments. The amount of actual wages should be supported by relevant documents, for example auto-pay transfer remittance slip from banks, payment records, records of employees’ receipt, ORSO contribution records etc., for calculating the amount of subsidies.

Only online application is accepted under ESS. We will set up a help desk during the application period (i.e. 31 August to 13 September) of the second tranche of ESS to assist applicants in need for completing the online applications.


The address of the help desk is as follows –

  • Room 1301, AT Tower, 180 Electric Road, North Point

Service Hours:

  • Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays), 9 am to 6 pm

The online application period for the second tranche of ESS is from 7:00 am on 31 August to 11:59 pm on 13 September. The system for online application will cease to operate after 13 September.

You have to fill out the online application form again if the browser or application webpage is closed before submission.

An applicant has 60 minutes to complete and submit the application.

Upon confirmation of completion of the online application, the applicant will receive a confirmation email and SMS to acknowledge the receipt of the application and a computer-generated application number and password will be issued (for employers who have applied for wage subsidies in the first tranche, the application number and password will be the same in the second tranche). If the applicant’s Internet is disconnected when completing the application form, the application procedures may not be complete and applicants are required to complete a new online application form. Please note that it is only when the applicant receives a confirmation email and SMS that the online application procedures are considered complete and will be processed.

It is expected that most eligible employers who have provided accurate and complete information will receive wage subsidies in three to four weeks after submission of application. Applicants are therefore advised to ensure that the information they submit meet all requirements under ESS to facilitate early completion of the vetting process and disbursement of the subsidy. For employers whose applications involve ORSO schemes, or government funded organisations, government outsourced service contractors or consultants which have received notification in writing by relevant government departments, their applications may require longer processing time. Please note that any omission of information may delay the vetting process of the application.

In addition, if employers who received the first tranche of wage subsidies have violated the undertaking (i.e. failing to use all the wage subsidies received for a particular month to pay the wages of their employees in the same month and/or the number of employees on the payroll in any one month of the subsidy period is less than the “committed headcount of paid employees” (meaning the total number of paid or unpaid staff in March 2020)), and have to return to the Government the unspent balance of wage subsidies and/or pay a penalty to the Government, their applications may require a longer processing time.

The ESS Secretariat will notify applicants via e-mail and SMS message that they may check the application result on the online system before the disbursement of wage subsidies to employers/ one-off lump-sum subsidy to SEPs.

Applicants may also logon to the ESS website to check the application status and results (including the approved amount of subsidies).

Generally speaking, upon completion and confirmation of the online application, applicants are not allowed to amend the information (including the chosen “specified month”) submitted in the application form.

Should there be any special circumstances, applicants should inform the ESS processing agent, through the Employment Support Scheme Application Service Portal, using the application number and password for follow-up.

If an applicant has lost his/her application number, he/she is required to send an e-mail via their registered email account to enquiry@employmentsupport.hk. Employers are required to provide in the e-mail their company names, and MPF scheme registration/participation numbers and/or ORSO scheme registration/exemption numbers. The ESS Secretariat/processing agent will issue the application numbers by e-mail upon verification of applicants’ identities.

All applicants, irrespective of whether they have been granted wage subsidies in the first tranche of ESS or new applicants in the second tranche of ESS, must declare all MPF trustee(s), and/or MPF scheme(s), registration/participation number(s) changed on or after 1 April 2020. They must provide the relevant information and upload the relevant supporting documents in respect of the MPF scheme(s) concerned when completing the online application form.



6. Application Results and Disbursement Arrangements

Since 22 June, the Employment Support Scheme (ESS) Secretariat has made available, by batches, on the ESS website(www.ess.gov.hk) the list of the employers who have received the wage subsidies in the first tranche, the amount of wage subsidies disbursed and the “committed headcount of paid employees”.

For the second tranche of ESS, the Secretariat will upload, by batches, onto the above website the same information upon the completion of disbursement of subsidies to the employers whose applications have been approved.

Upon successful submission of the application, the applicant will receive an email and an SMS message acknowledging receipt of his/her application by the system and be assigned an application number and a password (for employers who have received wage subsidies in the first tranche, the application number and password will be the same in the second tranche). Applicants may check their application status and results online on the ESS website anytime.

After completion of vetting of the applications and before disbursement of wage subsidies to employers or one-off lump-sum subsidy to self-employed persons, the Secretariat will notify the applicants via e-mails and SMS messages that they may check their application results on the webpage.

The applicant should inform the ESS processing agent, through the Employment Support Scheme Application Service Portal, using the application number and password for follow-up, or send e-mail to enquiry@employmentsupport.hk, or call 1836-122 or visit our help desk during service hours.

If applicants would like to request for a review of the aforementioned wage subsidy amount for the second tranche of the ESS (including the deductions in respect of subsidy to be clawed back and / or penalty for the first tranche (if applicable)) and committed headcount of paid employees, please select “REQUEST FOR REVIEW” in the result notification webpage within 7 days from the date of issuance of the application result notification. Please note that that once a request for review is lodged, subsidy disbursement will be withheld until the review is completed. No overdue requests for review of application result will be accepted.



7. Penalty and Monitoring

For an employer receiving the second tranche of subsidies, if it fails to use all the subsidies received for a particular month to pay the wages of its employees in the same month during the three-month subsidy period (i.e. from September to November 2020), the Government will claw back the unspent balance of the subsidies of that month.

Subsidies to be clawed back by the Government ($) = Subsidies received for a particular month ($) Actual payroll expenses for a particular month ($)

Furthermore, if the total number of paid employees (excluding those on no-pay leave) in any one month of the subsidy period of the second tranche is less than the number of employees (whether paid or unpaid) in March 2020 (i.e. “committed headcount of paid employees”), the employer will have to pay a penalty to the Government. The penalty for a particular month during the subsidy period is calculated as follows:

Subsidies received for a particular month ($)
x
Headcount reduction percentage for a particular month (%)
x
Penalty percentage (%)
Headcount reduction
percentage
for a particular month (%)
=
Committed headcount
of paid employees
Total no. of paid employees
in a particular month

over Committed headcount of paid employees
x
100%

The penalty percentage is determined by the employer’s “committed headcount of paid employees”, viz, the larger the number of employees, the higher the penalty percentage. Details are set out below:

Committed headcount of paid employees Penalty Percentage
Less than 10 10%
10 - 49 20%
50 - 99 40%
100 - 499 60%
500 or more 80%

Examples of penalty:


Example 1: For employers with “committed headcount of paid employees” of less than 10

“Committed headcount of paid employees”: 5
Applicable penalty percentage (less than 10 employees): 10%
The amount of the second tranche of subsidy received by the employer is $120,000 (i.e. the monthly subsidy from September to November 2020 is $40,000).


The total number of paid employees and total wages paid in each month of the subsidy period are as follows:

 No content Total number of paid employees Total wages paid Subsidies to be clawed back by the Government Penalty of making redundancies
September 2020 3 $60,000 $0 $40,000 X 40% X 10% = $1,600
October 2020 5 $30,000 $40,000 - $30,000 = $10,000 $0
November 2020 7 $70,000 $0 $0

Penalty of making redundancies:Since the total number of paid employees in September 2020 is 3, representing a reduction of 2 employees as compared to the “committed headcount of paid employees” (5 employees) or by 40% (2 ÷ 5 x 100%), the amount of penalty payable by the employer for September = $40,000 (subsidies received) x 40% (headcount reduction percentage) x 10% (penalty percentage applicable to the employer) = $1,600.

Subsidies to be clawed back by the Government: Since the total wages paid in October 2020 ($30,000) is less than the monthly wage subsidy in any one month ($40,000), the Government will claw back the unspent balance of the subsidy ($10,000).

Penalty for the second tranche of subsidies and the subsidies clawed back = $1,600 + $10,000 = $11,600


Example 2: For employers with “committed headcount of paid employees” of 500 or more

“Committed headcount of paid employees”: 1 000
Applicable penalty percentage (500 or more employees): 80%
The amount of the second tranche of subsidy received by the employer is $15,000,000 (i.e. the monthly wage subsidy from September to November 2020 is $5,000,000).


The total number of paid employees and total wages paid in each month of the subsidy period are as follows:

 No content Total number of paid employees Total wages paid Subsidies to be clawed back by the Government Penalty of making redundancies
September 2020 900 $6,000,000 $0 $5,000,000 X 10% X 80% = $400,000
October 2020 1000 $4,800,000 $5,000,000 - $4,800,000 = $200,000 $0
November 2020 1200 $10,800,000 $0 $0

Penalty of making redundancies: Since the number of paid employees in September 2020 is 900, representing a reduction of 100 employees as compared to the “committed headcount of paid employees” (1 000 employees) or by 10% (100 ÷ 1 000 x 100%), the amount of penalty payable by the employer for September = $5,000,000 (subsidies received) x 10% (headcount reduction percentage) x 80% (penalty percentage applicable to the employer) = $400,000.


Subsidies to be clawed back by the Government: Since the total wages paid in October 2020 ($4,800,000) is less than the monthly wage subsidy in any one month ($5,000,000), the Government will claw back the unspent balance of the subsidy ($200,000).


Penalty for the second tranche of subsidies and the subsidies clawed back = $400,000 + $200,000 = $600,000


In addition to the above penalty, for employers who have received the first tranche of subsidies and participate in the second tranche, the Government reserves the right to reject an employer’s application for the second tranche of wage subsidies if the Secretariat, in its absolute discretion, considers that the magnitude of “redundancies made” by the employer in its company/organisation during the subsidy period of the first tranche (i.e. from June to August 2020) was substantial, and the employer fails to prove to the satisfaction of the Secretariat its intention to employ persons to replace those being laid off and/or re-employ those who have been laid off, or there is no reasonable explanations provided for the "redundancies made" by it. Besides, for employers who have received the second tranche of wage subsidies, the Government reserves the right to claw back the second tranche of wage subsidies disbursed to an employer (in full or in part) if the Secretariat, in its absolute discretion, considers that the magnitude of “redundancies made” by the employer in its company/organisation during the subsidy period of the second tranche (i.e. from September to November 2020) was substantial, and the employer concerned fails to prove to the satisfaction of the Secretariat its intention to employ persons to replace those being laid off and/or re-employ those who have been laid off, or there is no reasonable explanations provided for the "redundancies made" by it.

Besides, for employers who have been granted wage subsidies in the first tranche and participate in the second tranche, in addition to the penalty as specified above, the Government reserves the right to reject an employer’s application for the second tranche of wage subsidies (or, if the subsidies have been disbursed, require the employer to return the subsidies received (in full or in part) within a specified period) if the Secretariat, in its absolute discretion, considers that the employer has, during the subsidy period of the first tranche (i.e. from June to August 2020), engaged in conduct which directly or indirectly violates the objective of retaining employment under ESS, or is contrary to public interest. Furthermore, the Government reserves the right to require an employer to return the second tranche of wage subsidies received (in full or in part) within a specified period if the Secretariat, in its absolute discretion, considers that the employer has, during the subsidy period of the second tranche (i.e. from September to November 2020), engaged in conduct which directly or indirectly violates the objective of retaining employment under ESS, or is contrary to public interest.

The “committed headcount of paid employees” includes the total number of employees (regardless of whether they were paid or not) in March 2020, including employees who have tendered resignation or made redundant in that month but remained in the employers’ Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) contribution records for March / salary payment records for March in respect of employers with ORSO schemes.

Yes. Employers receiving wage subsidies under ESS are required to undertake that the total number of paid employees in any one month during the subsidy period (regarding the second tranche of subsidies, that means from September to November 2020) will not be less than the “committed headcount of paid employees” (i.e. the total number of employees as of March 2020 (regardless of whether they were paid or not)) , or they will have to pay a penalty to the Government.

We believe that employers have taken into account various situations that may affect their business during the subsidy period when submitting applications and giving undertakings. Therefore, if employers expect reduction in the number of employees during the subsidy period, they must fill the vacancies to maintain the “committed headcount of paid employees”.

ESS does not forbid employers to redeploy their employees when receiving wage subsidies. However, it should be noted that both the undertaking and penalty under ESS are related to the individual applicant. Applicants who have received wage subsidies must ensure that the number of paid employees in each month during the subsidy period should not be less than the “committed headcount of paid employees”. It should be noted that the ESS processing agent will use the actual wages and total number of paid employees in the MPF record certificates and/or ORSO contributions record in the subsidy period to determine if an employer has violated the undertaking.

After the application has been approved, employers should make sure that the number of paid employees (excluding those on no-pay leave) in any one month during the subsidy period should not be less than the “committed headcount of paid employees”, and the employer should spend all the wage subsidies in paying wages to their employees. Employers may hire additional employees to support their business operations if employees are asking for taking no-pay leave.

For employers participating in MPF schemes, if they have made MPF contributions for the new employees in the relevant months during the subsidy period and with such information shown in the MPF record certificates, the employees concerned will be counted towards the total number of employees in the relevant months.

When employers participating in MPF schemes submit their applications, they are required to authorise the ESS processing agent to serve as their agent to receive certificates on the relevant MPF records (including the number of employees and wages) issued by the MPF trustees, as well as to authorise the MPF trustees to provide the ESS processing agent (as the employers’ agent) with MPF record certificates to verify the information related to their MPF contributions. With the applicants’ authorisation, the MPF trustees will forward the MPF record certificates in electronic format to the ESS processing agent directly.

As regards employers who have set up ORSO schemes for their employees, they have to make available the supporting documents (e.g. ORSO contribution records, autopay remittance records issued by banks, salary payment records, and employees’ acknowledgement records, etc.) about the actual wages paid to their employees in the “specified month” and the number of employees in March 2020 for checking by the ESS processing agent.

When processing applications, the ESS processing agent will verify the information submitted by the employers and conduct sample on-site checking of the original copies of wage records, so as to monitor the applications, the usage of the wage subsidies and whether there are any redundancies.

The data collected under ESS is primarily the number of employees and their wages. To prevent applicants from using false or incomplete information to apply for ESS, employers should retain the original copies of the relevant documents for two years for the purpose of auditing.

Relevant departments of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government have issued letters to remind relevant organisations of the eligibility of ESS. Applicants have to provide undertakings to ensure that the application will not cover non-eligible employees (e.g. employees whose wages are fully funded by the Government). Applicants would bear legal liability for furnishing any false information. If there is reasonable suspicion of the information provided in the application, the ESS Secretariat would consult the relevant government departments. Furthermore, the Government will conduct spot checks and request applicants to provide additional information for follow-up and on-site audit. If there is reasonable suspicion of false information we would also consider making referrals to law enforcement agencies for investigation.

The ESS Secretariat and the appointed processing agent will perform auditing through employers’ MPF record certificates for each month during the subsidy period provided by MPF trustees. The actual wages and the total number of paid employees shown will be used to verify whether the employers have used all of the wage subsidies on paying wages to their employees during the subsidy period and whether the total number of paid employees of the month is not less than the “committed headcount of paid employees”.

Employers who have set up ORSO schemes for employees also need to submit information of the actual wages and the number of employees during the subsidy period for auditing.

In addition, after the vetting of applications and the disbursement of subsidies, the ESS Secretariat and/or its processing agent will conduct sample verification of the information submitted by the employers, and conduct on-site checking at those employers’ organisations.

If employers fail to use all the subsidies to pay the wages in any one month during the subsidy period, receive more subsidies than they are entitled to or receive subsidies erroneously, the Government will claw back the relevant amount of subsidies. As required by the Secretariat and/or the processing agent, applicants have to return the subsidies to the Government as soon as possible. If the employers’ applications for both the first and second tranches of subsidies are approved, and they are in breach of their undertakings during the first subsidy period so that they have to return the unspent balance of the subsidy and/or pay a penalty to the Government, the Government will deduct the relevant amount directly from the second tranche of subsidies to the employers concerned.

If it comes to the attention of the ESS Secretariat and/or the processing agent that an applicant is undergoing liquidation before disbursement of subsidies, the Secretariat and/or the processing agent reserve all the rights to refuse disbursement of the subsidies.

We understand that many employers are striving to keep their business afloat so as to tide over the difficult times with their employees. The aim of the second tranche of ESS is to help employers pay the wages of their employees from September to November 2020. Employers receiving the subsidies have undertaken that the total number of employees on the payroll in any one month of the subsidy period will not be less than the “committed headcount of paid employees”. They also have to use all the wage subsidies to pay the wages of the employees and/or make MPF contributions for them. We believe that employers have taken into account situations that may affect their businesses during the subsidy period when submitting their applications and providing undertakings. Therefore, in the unfortunate event of closure of a company, the Government will claw back the unspent balance of the subsidies after its closure or during the subsidy period, and impose a penalty.

The ESS adopts a transparent approach to enable monitoring by employees concerned and the society. The ESS Secretariat has uploaded onto the ESS website the list of employers who have received subsidies in the first tranche of ESS, the amount of wage subsidies received and their “committed headcount of paid employees”. As such, employees concerned and members of the public will be informed of the employer’s receipt of subsidy. The Secretariat will publish, by batches, on the website the list of employers who have received subsidies in the second tranche of ESS, the amount of wage subsidies received and their “committed headcount of paid employees” after the disbursement of the subsidies. Should an employer be found to have abused or violated the conditions of ESS, the employees concerned or members of the public may report to the ESS Secretariat. The authorities will take follow-up actions proactively.

Telephone hotline: 1836-122
Email: enquiry@employmentsupport.hk


For enquiries relating to provisions under the Employment Ordinance or conditions of employment pertaining to labour disputes, please contact the Labour Relations Division (LRD) of the Labour Department:

Email: enquiry@labour.gov.hk

Branch offices of LRD: https://www.labour.gov.hk/eng/tele/lr1.htm

Enquiry hotline: 2717-1771 (the hotline is operated by 1823)

Applicants must provide true, complete and accurate information when making the applications, otherwise, the relevant applications may be rendered invalid, rejected and/or disqualified. Appropriate monitoring and auditing mechanisms are in place under the ESS. During and after the vetting of applications, the ESS Secretariat and/or its processing agent will verify the information submitted by the employers, and conduct on-site checking at those employers’ organisations. Any employer who is found to have made a false statement, misinterpreted or concealed the facts, or furnished false or misleading documents or information to the Government, Secretariat and/or processing agent in an attempt to deceive the Government and/or its appointed agencies is a criminal offence, and could be subject to criminal prosecution.



8. Enquiry

Applicants may seek assistance via the following channels:

E-mail to enquiry@employmentsupport.hk; or
Call 1836-122 during service hours


Service hours of hotline:

  • Before or after application period:
    Monday to Friday, 9 am to 6 pm
  • During application period (31 August to 13 September 2020):
    31 August to 9 September Monday to Sunday (including public holidays), 9 am to 6 pm
    10 September to 12 September 9 am to 8 pm
    13 September 9 am to 0:30 am of the following/next day

Applicants may make an appointment with the help desk for assistance during the application period through the hotline above.


The addresses of the help desk is as follows:

  • Room 1301, AT Tower, 180 Electric Road, North Point

Service hours of the help desk:

  • Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays), 9 am to 6 pm


The FAQs provided on this website are for reference only. The ESS Secretariat and/ or the Processing Agent may amend any FAQ to cater for different circumstances and does not accept any responsibilities to the applicants and any third-parties in connection with any amendments to the FAQs on this website.


1. General Information

ESS provides time-limited financial support to employers to retain their employees who may otherwise be made redundant. Employers who participate in ESS must provide an undertaking not to implement redundancy during the subsidy period and to spend all the wage subsidies on paying wages to their employees. ESS will also provide a one-off lump-sum subsidy to persons who have a “Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) self-employed person (SEP) account”.

ESS provides a six-month wage subsidy for eligible employers. The subsidies will be disbursed to employers in two tranches, with the first tranche covering the period from June to August 2020 (application of which had been closed) and the second tranche from September to November 2020.

ESS also provides a one-off lump-sum subsidy of $7,500 to eligible SEPs. Please note that SEPs who have received a one-off subsidy of $7,500 in the first tranche of ESS cannot apply again in the second tranche.

The Government has exempted the wage subsidies received by employers and the one-off lump-sum subsidy received by SEPs under ESS from taxation. That said, wages earned by employees (regardless of whether the wages are subsidised by ESS or fully paid by employers) are treated as income chargeable to salaries tax under the Inland Revenue Ordinance (Cap. 112).

The ESS Secretariat has appointed a professional accounting firm to serve as the ESS processing agent, which assists the Government in the implementation of ESS (including design of the online application portal, calculation of the amount of subsidies, and handling public enquiries, etc.), vetting of applications, complaint handling and auditing of applications to prevent abuses.

MPF trustees will issue certificates on the relevant MPF records for employer and SEP applicants who have participated in MPF schemes to the ESS processing agent for subsidy calculation and application vetting. MPF trustees will not be engaged in the vetting of ESS applications.



2. Eligibility

With the exception of ineligible persons (see below), applicants are required to set up an MPF SEP account on or before 31 March 2020 (i.e. cannot be backdated to that date or any earlier dates), which has not been terminated as of that date. In accordance with The Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Ordinance (Cap 485), an “SEP” is a person who earns income from the production of or trade in goods or services in a capacity other than an employee. An “MPF SEP account” is opened by a person who has enrolled himself/herself in an MPF scheme as an “SEP”Note. Generally, MPF contribution records of SEPs would show descriptions such as an “SEP” account. An MPF account opened in the capacity of an “employee” or a “personal MPF account” in any form is not eligible for the ESS.


The following SEPs are not eligible for the ESS:

  1. Persons who have received a one-off subsidy of $7,500 for SEPs in the first tranche of the ESS;
  2. freelancers who provide school bus services as school bus drivers, school private light bus drivers and escorts (commonly known as “nannies”) and have applied for the subsidies under the ”School Bus Service Providers Subsidy Scheme” of the Education Bureau (except proprietors of a fleet or vehicle who are also drivers/escorts; they can apply for the ESS subsidies as SEPs and, at the same time, the subsidy under the “School Bus Service Providers Subsidy Scheme” if they have opened “MPF SEP accounts” themselves); and
  3. freelancers who are tour service coach drivers and have applied for the subsidies under the “Tour Service Coach Drivers (Mainly Serving Tourists) Support Scheme” of the Tourism Commission (except proprietors of a fleet/vehicle who are also drivers; they can apply for the ESS subsidies as SEPs and, at the same time, the subsidy under the “Tour Service Coach Drivers (Mainly Serving Tourists) Support Scheme” if they have opened “MPF SEP accounts” themselves).

  • Note: Any person who is an SEP at least 18 but under 65 years of age has the legal obligation to enrol himself/herself into an MPF scheme.

Yes. But each SEP is required to apply for the one-off lump-sum subsidy of the ESS individually.

No. An SEP with more than one “MPF SEP account” can only receive the one-off lump-sum subsidy of $7,500 once under the ESS.

With the exception of ineligible SEPs (please refer to Q&A 2.1), SEPs who have set up an “MPF SEP account” on or before 31 March 2020 (i.e. cannot be backdated to that date or any earlier dates), which has not been terminated as of 31 March 2020, are eligible.

Yes. An SEP who is also an employer may apply for the SEP subsidy for himself/herself and the wage subsidies for employees of his/her company as long as he/she meets the eligibility requirements of the ESS.



3. Application Procedures

An SEP is required to provide his/her name, Hong Kong Identity Card number, the name of the MPF trustee and MPF scheme of his/her “MPF SEP account” in the ESS application. (Please refer to Q&A 2.1 for the eligibility of SEPs)

It should be noted that, according to The Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Ordinance (Cap. 485, Laws of Hong Kong), an “SEP” is a person who earns income from the production of or trade in goods or services in a capacity other than an employee. An “MPF SEP account” is opened by a person who has enrolled himself/herself in an MPF scheme as an “SEP”Note. Generally, MPF contribution records of SEPs would show descriptions such as an “SEP” account. An MPF account opened in the capacity of an “employee” or a “personal MPF account” in any form is not eligible for SEP subsidies under the ESS. Besides, SEPs who have received the one-off lump-sum subsidy in the first tranche of ESS cannot make applications again in the second tranche.


  • Note: Any person who is an SEP at least 18 but under 65 years of age has the legal obligation to enrol himself/herself into an MPF scheme.

To apply for a one-off lump-sum subsidy under the second tranche of ESS, SEPs must make their applications with the information of their dedicated “MPF SEP accounts”. An MPF account opened in the capacity of an “employee” or a “personal MPF account” in any form will not be accepted. Please note that the SEPs who have received a one-off lump-sum subsidy during the first tranche of the ESS are not allowed to make another application during the second tranche.


Eligible SEPs are required to provide the following information in their online application forms:

  • Name, Identity Card number, e-mail address and mobile phone number
  • Name of the MPF trustee and name of the MPF Scheme (any of the MPF schemes of the SEPs) (the name of the SEPs must be the same as the name shown on the records of the MPF trustee)
  • Details of the Hong Kong bank account for receiving the subsidy (including the name of the bank, name of bank account holder and bank account number) (the applicant’s name must be the same as that of the bank account holder)

In addition, the following supporting documents are required to be uploaded or submitted via other specified means when submitting the application:

  • Scanned copies of the SEP’s bank account number for receiving subsidies and bank statement(s)
  • Scanned copy of any document issued by the MPF trustee related to the “MPF SEP account” of the applicant. The document must clearly indicate the name of the MPF trustee, the name of the MPF Scheme and the participation number of the SEP

To streamline administrative procedures and to avoid possible delays or omissions when submitting information, SEPs are required to authorise the following parties when submitting their online applications (www.ess.gov.hk):

  • MPF trustee to provide applicant’s MPF record certificate to ESS processing agent (serving as applicant’s agent) appointed by the Government for verifying applicant’s MPF-related information; and
  • the ESS processing agent (serving as applicant’s agent) appointed by the Government to receive applicant’s MPF record certificate issued by MPF trustee, and to use the relevant information in the MPF record certificate to approve, assess and review the application; as well as to monitor and handle disputes and follow-up matters related to the ESS subsidy, and for statistical purpose.

With the applicants’ authorisation, the MPF trustees will forward the applicants’ MPF record certificates in electronic format to the ESS processing agent directly. Applicants may also request their MPF trustees to provide copies of such certificates for reference.


Please note that any omissions of information will result in delay of processing of applications.

Please upload the required supporting documents by scanning or taking the front vertical shot of such documents. To speed up the vetting processing, the scanned copies or photos must clearly display the text content.

Please note that supporting documents should be submitted in scanned format if more than one document is to be uploaded.

For SEPs, as they are required to apply for ESS in an individual “SEP” capacity, applicants should provide their name and Hong Kong Identity Card number in the online application form for assessment purpose.

Only online application is accepted under ESS. We will set up a help desk during the application period (i.e. 31 August to 13 September) of the second tranche of ESS to assist applicants in need for completing the online applications.


The address of the help desk is as follows –

  • Room 1301, AT Tower, 180 Electric Road, North Point

Service Hours:

  • Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays), 9 am to 6 pm

The online application period for the second tranche of ESS is from 7:00 am on 31 August to 11:59 pm on 13 September. The system for online application will cease to operate after 13 September.

You have to fill out the online application form again if the browser or application webpage is closed before submission.

An applicant has 60 minutes to complete and submit the application.

Upon confirmation of completion of the online application, the applicant will receive a confirmation email and SMS to acknowledge the receipt of the application and a computer-generated application number and password will be issued (for employers who have applied for wage subsidies in the first tranche, the application number and password will be the same in the second tranche). If the applicant’s Internet is disconnected when completing the application form, the application procedures may not be complete and applicants are required to complete a new online application form. Please note that it is only when the applicant receives a confirmation email and SMS that the online application procedures are considered complete and will be processed.

In general, eligible SEPs who have provided accurate and complete information will receive subsidies in three to four weeks after submission of application.

The ESS Secretariat will notify applicants via e-mail and SMS message that they may check the application result on the online system before the disbursement of wage subsidies to employers/ one-off lump-sum subsidy to SEPs.

Applicants may also logon to the ESS website to check the application status and results (including the approved amount of subsidies).

Generally speaking, upon completion and confirmation of the online application, applicants are not allowed to amend the information submitted in the application form.

Should there be any special circumstances, applicants should inform the ESS processing agent, through the Employment Support Scheme Application Service Portal, using the application number and password for follow-up.

If an applicant has lost his/her application number, he/she is required to send an e-mail via their registered email account to enquiry@employmentsupport.hk. SEPs are required to provide in the e-mail their names and Hong Kong Identity Card numbers. The ESS Secretariat/processing agent will issue the application numbers by e-mail upon verification of applicants’ identities.



4. Application Results and Disbursement Arrangements

No.

Upon successful submission of the application, the applicant will receive an email and an SMS message acknowledging receipt of his/her application by the system and be assigned an application number and a password (for employers who have received wage subsidies in the first tranche, the application number and password will be the same in the second tranche). Applicants may check their application status and results online on the ESS website anytime.

After completion of vetting of the applications and before disbursement of wage subsidies to employers or one-off lump-sum subsidy to self-employed persons, the Secretariat will notify the applicants via e-mails and SMS messages that they may check their application results on the webpage.

The applicant should inform the ESS processing agent, through the Employment Support Scheme Application Service Portal, using the application number and password for follow-up, or send e-mail to enquiry@employmentsupport.hk, or call 1836-122 or visit our help desk during service hours.

Should an applicant have any enquiries about/be dissatisfied with the application result, the applicant is required to log in to the Employment Support Scheme Application Service Portal to make enquiries/request for a review of the decision within 7 days from the date of issuance of the result notification. If no enquiry/request for review has been received from the applicant before the deadline, the application result will become final and no further enquiry/request for review will be entertained. Should an enquiry/request for review be received from the applicant within the 7-day period, subsidy payment will then be withheld.



5. Penalty and Monitoring

Applicants must provide true, complete and accurate information when making the applications, otherwise, the relevant applications may be rendered invalid, rejected and/or disqualified. Any self-employed person who is found to have made a false statement, misinterpreted or concealed the facts, or furnished false or misleading documents or information to the Government, Secretariat and/or processing agent in an attempt to deceive the Government and/or its appointed agencies is a criminal offence, and could be subject to criminal prosecution.



6. Enquiry

Applicants may seek assistance via the following channels:

E-mail to enquiry@employmentsupport.hk; or
Call 1836-122 during service hours


Service hours of hotline:

  • Before or after application period:
    Monday to Friday, 9 am to 6 pm
  • During application period (31 August to 13 September 2020):
    31 August to 9 September Monday to Sunday (including public holidays), 9 am to 6 pm
    10 September to 12 September 9 am to 8 pm
    13 September 9 am to 0:30 am of the following/next day

Applicants may make an appointment with the help desk for assistance during the application period through the hotline above.


The addresses of the help desk is as follows:

  • Room 1301, AT Tower, 180 Electric Road, North Point

Service hours of the help desk:

  • Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays), 9 am to 6 pm



The FAQs provided on this website are for reference only. The ESS Secretariat and/ or the Processing Agent may amend any FAQ to cater for different circumstances and does not accept any responsibilities to the applicants and any third-parties in connection with any amendments to the FAQs on this website.

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