August 14th, 2020
DAB Legislative Councillor Vincent CHENG met with the Secretary for Labour and Welfare LAW Chi Kwong to follow up on the progress of the government’s implementation of supporting policies and measures for employment affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vincent CHENG said that in response to the society’s concern on self-employed persons who have not benefited from the first round of the Anti-epidemic Fund, the second round of the Employment Support Scheme will specifically provide allowance for employed seniors 65 or above who have temporarily stopped paying into the MPF. Also, the Scheme will be open for application in the near future again by those around 100,000 self-employed persons eligible for the subsidy but have not submitted applications. We also urged the government to reconsider and treat those rejected applications more generously.
The media reported that some unscrupulous employers are suspected to dismiss employees after receiving the subsidy to the point where their companies become “zero employees” while some companies are suspected to have closed after receiving the subsidy. Vincent CHENG quoted the government in saying that there are over 200 cases of “zero employees”, most of whom are small-scale enterprises. The government has set up a specialized group to strictly follow up on complaints. It will recover the subsidy via the mechanism if a company decreases the number of employees. If there is fraud, the case will be handed to law enforcement to deal with.
As the unemployment situation in Hong Kong has not improved under the epidemic, Vincent CHENG hopes the government will continue to enhance its measures to support the unemployed. These include:
Enhance the Working Family Allowance Scheme by setting up a level of total monthly working hours from 64 to 144 to provide a subsidy to those underemployed or being forced to suffer salary cuts.
Set up an unemployment subsidy which does not require an asset means test and provide not less than 3 months of emergency subsidies for the unemployed. In the long term we should research and set up a system to protect the unemployed.
Promote a subsidy encouraging employers to employ the unemployed or those who underwent Employees Retraining Board courses.
Promote the 3rd round of the Anti-epidemic Fund and by connecting it to the 2nd round of the Fund to create a total of 60,000 temporary and time-bound job openings in both public and private sectors.
Strengthen the functions of the Labour Department website and set up a new page posting government time-bound job openings specifically created under the pandemic in order to facilitate job seekers.
Vincent CHENG, Chairperson, Legislative Council Panel on Manpower, DAB Spokesperson on Manpower Affairs (6373 1979)