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As the world reacts to the Covid-19 epidemic, Hong Kong has announced an Employment Support Scheme as part of their anti-epidemic fund on 18th April 2020. Here you’ll find a comprehensive guide to the details of the ESS. 

Hong Kong’s Employment Support Scheme (ESS)

The HKD$81 billion scheme aims to cushion the impact that Covid-19 has brought to the employment sector. The ESS has been set up to maintain employment in hard-hit industries through the provision of time-limited financial support for employers that retain their employees who would have otherwise been made redundant. Additionally, the ESS also covers eligible self-employed persons with a one-off lump sum subsidy.

Who is eligible for the Employment Support Scheme?

  • All employers who have been making Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) contributions or have set up Occupational Retirement Schemes (ORSO Schemes) for their employees. 
  • “Employees” refers to those who are full-time and part-time. This is not applicable to persons like government employees, statutory bodies and staff employed by outsourced service contracts that are under Government contracts.
  • Self-employed persons that have been contributing to MPF for the past 15 months, from or before 31st March 2020 (excluding backdating)

*All eligible employers partaking in the ESS must formally agree to not implement any form of redundancies during the subsidy period. 

**If there is a reduction in the number of employees on the payroll within the stipulated time period, the employer will be penalised accordingly. If any employer is found trying to terminate employees or add non-employees (i.e. friends or family) to the payroll, the employer will be subjected to criminal liabilities. 

***Employers are expected to transfer 100% of all given subsidy amounts to employees. The government will also release the list of companies under the ESS in order to ensure transparency.

More details on penalties can be found here.

What is the subsidy amount given under ESS?

For Employers:
The amount of subsidies given will be 50% of the monthly wages per employee, with a maximum subsidy of HKD$9,000. This means that any monthly wage above HKD$18,000 will be given the maximum subsidy amount of HKD$9,000 only. 

For Self-Employed Persons:
The one-off lump sum subsidy will be HKD$7,500.

Application and Payment period

At the moment, the Government has announced 2 rounds of payments with 2 application periods.

Applications must be submitted through the ESS online portal. The first round of applications start 0700hrs on 25th May 2020 and will close 2359hrs on 14th June 2020.

Application Period

Applicable Wage Months to select (only select one)

Payment Period

Subsidy Covers

25th May – 14th June 2020

December 2019 – March 2020

End June 2020

June – August 2020 Wages



September 2020

September – November 2020 Wages


Documents required for application

For employers under MPF Schemes:

  • Business Registration Number (or other registration number as required)
  • Name of the MPF Trustee
  • Name of MPF Scheme and Scheme Registration/ Participation Number 
  • Bank account number of employer 
  • Scanned copy of bank statement 

For employers under MPF-exempted ORSO Schemes:

  • Business Registration Number (or other registration number as required)
  • Name of MPF-exempted ORSO scheme, MPF Exemption Number and ORSO Registration/ Exemption Number 
  • Bank account number of employer
  • Number of eligible employees in March 2020, to be submitted through a designated form
  • Scanned copy of exemption certificate issued by MPFA
  • Scanned copy of bank statement

For self-employed persons:

  • Name of MPF Trustee
  • Name of the MPF Scheme (include all) and Scheme Registration/ Participation Number
  • Bank account number of employer
  • Scanned copy of bank statement

The Employment Support Scheme is a part of the Anti-Epidemic Fund initiated in light of Covid-19 by the Hong Kong government. This information is valid from the date of 20th May 2020.

Hong Kong’s Anti-Epidemic Fund 

The comprehensive fund of HKD$137.5 billion will cover different Covid-19 affected sectors. The Legislative Council Finance Committee had approved the second round of fund injection on 18th April 2020. 



Overview of Measures


Total funding of HKD$6 billion 

Includes schemes like Employment Support Scheme (ESS), Job Retention and Creation measures and Matching Grant Scheme of Skills Upgrading.

  • Creation of approximately 30,000 fixed-term jobs (up to 12 months) in the upcoming 2 years.
  • Matching grants of up to HKD$100 million for skills upgrading programmes for employees.

Real Estate

One-off subsidies to eligible licensed individuals

The subsidy amount will be equivalent to the 24-month licence fee for relevant licences.

Rental and fee concessions for selected government premises from April 2020 to September 2020. 

Banking and Finance

One-off relief grant to eligible individuals under Category B & C exchange participants and licensed Securities and Futures Commission individuals 

Intervention from Hong Kong Monetary Authority to address the pressure on clients’ cash flow.


One-off relief grant of HKD$40,000 to tutorial schools, in accordance with the Education Ordinance. 

One-off relief grant (varying amount) to suppliers and service providers for schools and educational institutions 

One-off relief grant for registered coaches under the National Sports Associations and Sports Organisations as well as instructors affiliated to the Social Welfare Department.

One-off interest-rate deferral of loan repayments for 2 years to post-secondary institutions under the Start-Up Loan Scheme or Non-profit-making international schools. Applicable to students under Working Family and Student Financial Assistance Agency. 


One-off subsidy of HKD$1 million for Hong Kong registered large aircrafts and HKD$200,000 for small aircrafts.

One-off subsidy (varying amount) to companies in the aviation support line.


20% fare reduction between 1st July 2020 to 1st January 2021 for MTR Corporation Limited.

100% reimbursement of actual regular repair and maintenance costs and insurance premiums for a period of six months for eligible transportation companies. 

Cash subsidies to transportation drivers.

Monthly public transport expense threshold of the Public Transport Fare Subsidy to be halved to HKD$200 from July 2020 to December 2020. 

Hotels and Tourism

Cash subsidy for licensed hotels

Subsidies for tourism-related companies.


HKD$50,000 training subsidies to construction consulting firms.

Cash subsidies for eligible construction-related employees.


Extended grace periods for insurance policy holders individuals to make payment.


One-off subsidy (varying amounts) to be given to catering companies in two tranches.

Catering businesses that have been closed down under government regulations will receive a further one-off subsidy of HKD$50,000. 


Waived registration and enrolment fees for eligible healthcare professionals from July 2020 to 2022, in recognition for their dedication to fight Covid-19 on the frontlines.


LAWTECH Fun started to support and upgrade SMEs.

Covid-19 Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) Scheme started to provide legal assistance for issues relating to Covid-19.

Innovation and Technology

Distance Business Programme launched to support technology-based businesses.

Funding for 5G development projects.


One-off relief grants for:

  • Sectors that have been completely/partly closed by government regulations in light of Covid-19
  • Private refuse collectors
  • Local primary producers

Subsidies given to:

  • Creative industries 
  • Non-profit-making organisations

This article does not constitute legal advice.

The opinions expressed in the column above represent the author’s own.

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